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Sun Microsystems Communications Technology

Sun Debuts Java 'iPhone' 195

An anonymous reader writes to tell us that this week at the JavaOne Conference, Sun debuted it's answer to the iPhone. While it is still months away from being a reality this phone is set to put them in direct competition with some of the top cellphone vendors. "Java Mobile FX is "a complete desktop-scale environment that puts the network in your hand," said Richard Green, executive vice president of Sun's software group, announcing the product in his keynote address. Sun ported the Savaje code to a Linux kernel and is expanding the applications programming interfaces and set of developer tools that will ship with it. It plans to make the code available on other platforms in the future. Sun has no licensees for Java Mobile FX yet. However, it is in conversations with carriers and handset makers now and hopes to see cellphones using the software ship in early 2008. "
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Sun Debuts Java 'iPhone'

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  • Guess Daddypants didn't read his email.
    • They seem to have the same case, which would make a lot of sense, it being a Linux based reference model.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eneville ( 745111 )
      Java itself is ok using the J2SE, what I found when working with J2ME was that there are so many things that would be useful when working in limited memory that just are not available that it makes developing for this platform a real strain. I think that this 'FX' series will be much of the same and make it difficult to do anything useful. I seriously hope that this is not the case and that FX can do most of what is available in the SE editions.
      • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @03:23PM (#19056349) Homepage Journal
        I've been studying FX since the announcement yesterday, and I think that Sun is overhyping it to the extreme. As it turns out, all JavaFX is is a new scripting language [wikipedia.org] formerly known as F3. The purpose of this language was to offer control over the Java2D and Swing APIs in a manner that is easy to use and fast to develop. Because of the control provided, developers are able to create richer GUIs.

        Somewhere along the way, the concept got derailed. Sun must have seen the iPhone and started worrying about what would happen to J2ME should it take off. So they yanked F3 off the shelf to show how similarly impressive GUIs could be created for cell phones. But before they could announce it, Microsoft jumped in the fray with their Silverlight announcement. (Silverlight being a powerful multimedia technology solution in search of a problem.) Not to be outdone, Sun somehow managed to convince the press that if you throw F3 (nay, JavaFX!) scripts into an Applet, you have a strong competitor to Silverlight. A rather incredible claim, IMHO, as JavaFX is lacking in the streaming video department. Even more telling is the fact that none of the JavaFX examples [java.net] are actually applets!

        Thankfully, Sun seems to be hedging their bets. None of the pages on the JavaFX site even mention Silverlight, almost making it look like the entire idea was a press invention. Sun's pages make a few passing references about running the technology in an Applet, but nothing firm.

        My verdict? I think that F3/JavaFX is the GUI layout technology that Swing developers have been waiting for. With any luck, the technology will create a new market for Java Desktop Applications. The rest of Sun's claims can be safely ignored.
        • I've been studying FX since the announcement yesterday, and I think that Sun is overhyping it to the extreme.

          No, really? Sun overhyping Java technology? Whatever next?

          Anyone remember Jini [wired.com], the incredible Java technology that was going to enable every device to talk to every other device? Or JXTA [wired.com], the Java technology that's going to revolutionize P2P?

          • Jini was actually a good idea. Unfortunately, Sun was not in a position to exploit it, and wanted too much money for licensing anyway.

            Completely agree on JXTA. I remember watching the introduction and thinking, "WTF?"
    • Guess Daddypants didn't read his email.
      I've submitted maybe a dozen things to that email address, and never once have any of the serious problems been fixed. So I stopped. Not sure what the point is of asking for help and feedback if they don't read it. So now I make the process so much more efficient by not sending it.
    • by MS-06FZ ( 832329 )
      But in Latin, "Jehovah" begins with an 'I'!
  • but (Score:5, Funny)

    by mekane8 ( 729358 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:48PM (#19054541)
    does it run Lin- errr... Does it run jav- errr... Will it let me see pr0n?
  • by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:48PM (#19054557)
    While most people just want something that works, there is no 'good' reason why the iPhone needs to be a totally closed platform. If Sun's new product is based on open standards and not locked and still gives a good customer experience, it will be far more than an iPhone.
    • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:55PM (#19054699)
      The iPhone has been declared dead so many times already that I am starting to think it's a Jesus phone for the amount of times it must have been resurrected. And there are so many iPhone killers running around loose that I don't dare step a foot out the door.

      Maybe everyone should just hold there horses and see what Apple actually comes out with. I know one thing, this product is hyped beyond belief and Apple didn't have to pay a red cent for that advertising (have you ever heard of a Zune killer before or after that thing came out?)
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 )

        have you ever heard of a Zune killer before or after that thing came out?

        Really, what's to kill?

        It's gotten lukewarm treatment in the press. It's hardly touted as the must-have-thing or anything like that.

        It's kind of like saying "We need to compete with broccoli for the hearts and minds of 5 year olds if we want our turnip/brussel sprouts hybrid to become popular". :-P

        I agree with you, I'll be curious to see what the phone actually offers. I know someone who spent around $500 for a Sony/Erickson phone be

      • by sameeer ( 946332 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:48PM (#19055725) Homepage
        You haven't heard of the Zune-killer?

        It's called Zune.
      • by drew ( 2081 )
        I think the "Zune killer" was when Steve Ballmer starting talking about using it to "squirt".
    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:01PM (#19054809) Homepage
      If it's anything like my experience with Java, you'll have to use version 7.4.2-6 of the cell phone communication protocol, because 7.4.2-7 has some changes that break the phone in confusing ways, and 7.5.0 is right-out. The phone will default everything to a hideous grey interface that ignores the styles that you set for all of your other devices, and will insist on making you do the most basic phone operations in the "Java" manner. It will ignore half of the capabilities of the underlying phone hardware in a failed attempt to be cross-platform, and your calls will run at a tenth the speed that they do on other phones. For makers of add-on modules, there will be half a million libraries, and you'll have to dedicate years of your life to be able to get past being a novice developer.

      There will be 86 editions of the Java iPhone. For your particular uses, you want Enterprise J2Mobile3EE JCC, release 3. Don't use release 2 of the phone; it's deprecated.

      The Java iPhone will become an immediate success in that businesses, after reading ads about it, will mandate that their employees all use them at work.
      • by Heembo ( 916647 )
        I've been writing Java on the server since the 1.0.2 days. Java on the server is a pleasure for large enterprise applications. Now, Java on the client? What a hellish, insecure, ugly monstrosity. Keep it on the server for large enterprise apps only, where it belongs!
        • I'm a Java guy too, and I'm totally with you, except for the 'insecure' part. What sort of security problems with desktop Java are you talking about?
          • by Heembo ( 916647 )
            I'm talking more poor applet security than poor Java desktop security. Java 6 makes Java *applications* sizzle. But for applets...

            1) Poor auto-update features for client-side JVM (People do not tend to update their Java client JVM)
            2) A vulnerability in the JDK or Java plugin may move all your clients into the attackable surface
            3) Older JVM's (in the past) could force the application to use an older vulnerable JVM if installed
            4) Stuff like java.lang.Runtime().getRuntime().exec("cmd.exe")
            5) 2006 hal
      • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) * on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @03:53PM (#19056931) Homepage
        Ever run a single J2ME application? There is nothing like that. Even on Desktop, apps look for a major version and they work. There is even Java Webstart which doesn't exist in any other language, a single click install/run and secure same time.

        For J2ME? You just send .jar as a message to phone. Nothing else. It asks if you really want to install it, bitches about certificate at worst scenario. What if you got impossible to run .jar file? It says "can't execute, exception" and continues its life.

        Now things are even better, Sony Ericsson phones having "Walkman" thing can auto update their own firmware including Java subsystem. Automatically.

        I just installed Putty (Ssh) to Series 80 Symbian before I read this article via drag and drop using OS X Finder. As far as I see, my GSM network is still up and running :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      How can you consider a phone with a fully-functional web browser in an era where people can write fully-fuctional web applications a "totally closed platform." Write a web app. Browse to said web app. Presto. I might agree with "more or less closed platform", but "totally" is FUD.
      • I call that a work-around at best.

        What will happen to your "app" if you step into a dead zone? Can it possibly be as responsive as a native, local app? It will do the job, but I don't think that the user experience would be up to snuff.

        I like a lot about the iPhone idea, what I'm waiting for is an actual launch and an actual announcement on how they will handle third party apps. I'm pretty sure the January Newsweek article covered the fact that Apple plans to allow third party apps, but the question was
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) *

        How can you consider a phone with a fully-functional web browser in an era where people can write fully-fuctional web applications a "totally closed platform." Write a web app. Browse to said web app. Presto. I might agree with "more or less closed platform", but "totally" is FUD.

        You are commenting like Safari is some state of the art webservice optimised browser. It is not. I am posting this comment using it and my licensed browser is based on its core engine, I am not a Safari hater, I just say it is sadly behind in web services.

        Anything serious requires Firefox or Camino. Just go to Google Docs for example. There is Thinkfree.com which allows Safari thanks to Java/Ajax mixed nature of it. Java won't be included in iPhone because it will cause argameddon (!).

        A fully functional mo

    • About half-way down the page at
        http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/when_not_where [sun.com]
      And it's a platform for apps on handheld hardware, so
      it's arguably pretty much just a JVM and some support

    • While most people just want something that works, there is no 'good' reason why the iPhone needs to be a totally closed platform. If Sun's new product is based on open standards and not locked and still gives a good customer experience, it will be far more than an iPhone.

      Kind of. It's a matter of dev. tools alright -- Apple has them, Sun doesn't. Apple's iPhone dev kit is likely to have a cross-compiler functionality; write your software on the Mac, compile, load onto dev. iPhone. Sun has.... command
  • This is NOT a phone (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:49PM (#19054563) Homepage Journal
    It's an operating system for phones, so it's a competitor to the likes of the Symbian OS, not Apple's iPhone.
    • I was wondering about this.

      Why buy a sun phone? And if Sun is ready for an ajax and flash killer with javaFX then it needs to be ported to other operating systems for phones. It makes sense to develop an OS.

      However it would be nicest to just develop JavaFX for multiple operating systems so it can become a standard. Otherwise it will be usless like .net mobile. .Net mobile kicks ass but market share is way too limited to develop on it as it requires windows.
      • Sun claims to have new innovations every week. Remember the java-oriented special processor that Sun wanted to release but never saw the light of day.
    • I believe that, more accurately, it's a platform consisting of an OS, a Java VM, and a software "stack" implementing the UI functionality of a cell phone. All the code for implementing a cell phone UI is written in Java: Dialing, contacts, profiles, skins, etc.
    • by fm6 ( 162816 )
      Which changes the question from "Why does Sun think it can compete with Apple" to "Why does Sun think there's room in the market for another Phone OS?" Carriers are already complaining [iht.com] that there are too many.
  • Pics (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jaavaaguru ( 261551 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:50PM (#19054577) Homepage
    If Sun "debuted" it, where are all the good photos? We want to see it!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by escay ( 923320 )
      here's the webcast of the session [sun.com] the phone introduction starts at ~22.00 minutes into the video. It's a complete touchscreen interface, fits into the palm nicely (looks smaller than iPhone?) and has an icon-driven GUI that looks suspiciously similar to the iPhone.
  • What concerns me is that the JavaFX Mobile platform itself appears to be a proprietary code base. Sun has made a lot of noise about JavaFX Script being available under the GPL, but is says that the JavaFX Mobile platform will be available with an OEM license. If that's true, this isn't really all that better than Flash, License-wise. I'd love to have the Java libraries available in a RIA, but if I have to kow-tow to Sun to get them...
  • So if Apple released the iPhone, will Sun, in keeping with their idiotic naming scheme for all things java, name it the jPhone? Will the next one run a KDE and be called the kPhone, or will they want to give it more character and name it the cPhone? Or will a Hungarian include a leather-strap handle and call it the hPhone?

    Thanks, I'll be here all week. Try the veal, it's fantastic.

    • Sorry, jphone [3g-generation.com] is taken. The Japanese adopted the J prefix years ago, and it's probably even more ubiquitous in Japan than i/e-prefixed words are in the US.
  • by MrPerfekt ( 414248 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @01:56PM (#19054713) Homepage Journal
    I can't get excited about it without pictures.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 )

      I can't get excited about it without pictures.

      Think of it as more of a Penthous Letters scenario ....

      The glistening, sleek case glinted in the moonlight, inviting me to reach out and caress it's luscious buttons. I longed to place a phone call, but decided to prolong my desire just a little longer and drink in it's plasticky smoothness ...

      Or ... not. :-P


    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Beyond whether it looks pretty or not, the interface is what's going to make or break the JPhone. There are hundreds of models on the market right now that run BREW; I don't really care about the technology of this phone so much as I care whether they actually had some smart interface designers and human factors people work on the UI.

      Behind the shininess and bouncy animation of the iPhone are, from the looks of it, some solid usability principles sorely lacking in the mobile device market today. If this
    • by iwoof ( 806811 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @03:20PM (#19056309)
      Pretty Picture here http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/when_not_where [sun.com]

  • I see... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nanosquid ( 1074949 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:00PM (#19054781)
    Sun will sell the software only in a binary version to ensure compatibility across different systems.

    Evidently, the new Sun is like the old Microsoft.
    • "Sun will sell the software only in a binary version to ensure compatibility across different systems."

      Evidently, the new Sun is like the old Microsoft.

      You mean, the phone we buy the software for will be proven to be nowhere near powerful enough to run the software and we will need to go out and get a new phone -- then we'll find out the license isn't transferable to another device?

      Oh wait, that's still the current Microsoft. :-P


  • by quixote9 ( 999874 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:01PM (#19054793) Homepage
    The OpenMoko [openmoko.com] folks have a prototype Linux phone out to developers in some kind of alpha testing phase. They're planning a release to the rest of us some time in November(?) Be nice if someone with Sun's resources worked *with* the rest of the open source crowd. Or is this Sun thing so much better there was no point? Anyone know how they compare?
  • by ahg ( 134088 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:13PM (#19055007)
    Until users get the devices in their hands and can evaluate the "feel" of the device there's no way of knowing if either phone will be a flop or success. Apple has consistently performed in this area in the past few years. In terms of interface experience they are probably years ahead of Sun, who is used to making computers for a more elite "geek" crowd. No one can say yet if the iPhone will be a success, but if I were a betting man... my money would be on Apple topping Sun's sales by 2 to 1. Sun's more "open" device may be a geek's dream, but IMHO, unlikley to have mass consumer appeal.

    My $0.02
  • by Lazerf4rt ( 969888 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:15PM (#19055053)

    TFA says Sun has "debuted software for a high-end cellphone that looked very similar to the Apple iPhone" but there are no pictures. In fact, I combed the web for more stories about this and none seem to have any pictures.

    Does it have a touchscreen or not? What kind of media playback? Visual voicemail? This story [builderau.com.au] says they want to produce phones that can be sold for $30-$50, which pretty much means they'd be unlike the iPhone at all.

    I guess what we have here is an iPhone name-drop with no meat to it. Which just adds to the iPhone buzz, really. Meanwhile, Sun's product (whether it's software or a specific phone) grabs a little attention, but goes back to being boring as soon as you're finished reading the article.

    • > How is jPhone like iPhone?

      Well, maybe it will feature crappy talk time, a non-replaceable battery, and a useless, locked down OS?
  • I love this... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jasin Natael ( 14968 )

    This is the same kind of hype that surrounded Java itself at its inception. We were all going to have Java Thin Clients, and Java programming would be so universal and so compatible, that it wouldn't matter what kind of computer you chose to run -- the free OS could run Java, too, so there would never be a need to pay for Windows just so you could run the same amazing Java Apps! Scott McNealy and Larry Ellison were each talking about how Java would change the distribution model of software, so that you ne

    • I've recently started programming web apps in Java for work and I have to say I'm unimpressed. In the time it's taken me to read instructions on how to get a development environment up and running on either Windows or OS X, I could have started doing actual work with PHP, Ruby on Rails, TurboGears or *shudder* ASP.NET.

      I look at it and think "Jeez, does it really need to be this freaking complicated?"

      • I look at the 'solutions' that people use, and most of them look like an engineer's pet project that got a bit out of hand and needs to be frozen two versions back. It is always the same nonsense: six XML config files controlling some overly generic engine that uses reflection to automagically do something that only took a couple of lines of code. And don't forget you need to distribute four megs of JAR files with your app to save you those ten lines of code!

        Unfortunately the Java community is enamored with
      • by glwtta ( 532858 )
        "Jeez, does it really need to be this freaking complicated?"

        That's a perfectly valid question that you should ask when picking a language/framework to use. If your webapp is simple enough to significantly benefit from what RoR provides, then anything from the Java stack is likely to be overkill. In other words, yeah, if the time to install your environment is noticeable compared to the total time you will spend on the project, then by all means go with the simplest thing possible.

        When it's appropria
        • Well, that's all well and good, but how do you learn it? If it takes days to get an environment running, how do you learn the language in a reasonable amount of time? I remember a couple years ago I wanted to learn JSP because a lot of employers were asking for experience in it. By the end of the day, I was about halfway through configuring Eclipse before I gave up.

          I saw the screen cast on Ruby on Rails and decided I wanted to learn it, so I sat down and followed a quick set of instructions and had my own

          • by glwtta ( 532858 )
            By the end of the day, I was about halfway through configuring Eclipse before I gave up.

            I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to learn about Eclipse than about JSP (which, of course, sucks donkey wang). Personally, I like to start with the basics when learning something new (ie plain text editor, build and package by hand, etc), before getting into the fancy IDEs that do everything for you. It's hard to keep track of what the IDE is doing if you don't know why it's doing it.

            I saw the screen cast on Rub
      • by LDoggg_ ( 659725 )
        I've been doing java development for almost ten years now, so I may be a little biased, but it's not all that difficult to get started doing server and client side java.

        You need 3 things: an app server, a JVM, and a good IDE.

        Using all free(mostly speech,some beer) stuff here's an example:

        Download and install the latest JDK [sun.com]. I recommend SE 1.6(no EE, or netbeans)
        Download and unzip/untar the latest eclipse with webtools bundle [eclipse.org].
        Download and unzip/untar the latest tomcat [apache.org]

        Now fire up the eclipse executable
    • Java is slow. Java has had over 10 years to become what it claimed to be. Unless this phone is running compiled Java, either performance or battery life are going to suffer.

      Who doesn't run compiled Java?

      It's not exactly an interpreted language.

      It's a real question, I'm not trying to be difficult. I've just never seen Java deployed in such a way that it wasn't compiled first.

      • by glwtta ( 532858 )
        I think he must've meant natively compiled (ie JIT), though I don't see why Sun would disable that functionality in the phone VM either.
  • Killer app (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dazedNconfuzed ( 154242 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @02:44PM (#19055633)
    A phone.

    I just want a phone.

    I just want to make/take calls.

    Get the little things right.

    Make it trivial - I mean easy like breathing - to place a call by numbers, voice, contact list, repeat/callback, etc., all mode-less.

    Incoming calls should just happen. Dorking around with finding the phone and/or earpiece and determining which one is activated ... please just make that nonsense stop. Again, mode-less.

    Get the order of things right. Don't show me "do you want to access voicemail?" before "these people called" - I don't want to waste time dorking around with voicemail when it could have showed me that the calls I missed are ones I don't want to deal with now. Don't display "you missed one call", show me who called.

    Memory is cheap. There's no reason for the call history list to end, much less end at just 25 calls. Put that info to work - data-mine it! When scrolling thru contacts, show me the most common contacts first; alphabetical order means I see that entry every time even though I haven't called that number in two years. Help me get to the numbers I want; there's enough processing power, use it smartly. Keep every number incoming and outgoing, and go fetch related data ASAP to tell me more.

    Stop teasing me with demo functions. I bought an appliance; don't treat it like the fourth toaster slot only works for 30 days, then I have to pay extra monthly for it.

    Stretch that battery life. Cut the cuteness; give me something that works for a long time between charges.

    It's not a TV, GPS, IM, etc. - just give me totally smooth PHONE functionality.

    And for Pete's sake: show the current time while I'm talking! Why do phones suddenly lose the pocketwatch function right when I'm most likely to need it to make arrangements with someone? I finally had to go back to wearing a watch precisely because the phone wouldn't show the time when most needed, even though it shows time 99.99% of the time?
    • Excellent. I could not agree more. Exactly what I've been saying for a long time. There are so many usability issues. The same "mistakes" are made over and over and over again. And don't get me started on the actual "quality" of the call. And STOP nickle-and-diming me on everything!

      Ya know, give me a cheap handheld web browser, that's what I want...screw the phone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drew ( 2081 )
      If you want incoming calls to "just happen" without having to find your phone first, I think you need to start talking to some quantum mechanics researchers, not the electronics companies that make the current generation of phones.
  • I won't buy any hype about Sun's Java Mobile FX nor any hype about Apple's iPhone nor newest offering from Microsoft. The reality in the mobile phone market is that to make any everlasting impact in mobile phone industry, especially when we are talking handsets and software, is that you either have to have Nokias's support or Samsung, Motorola and Sony-Ericsson hoping in board of your technology. Yes the technology itself might be interesting and even working as it should be, but if you are only offering it
  • "Sun Microsystems is here to talk about it's code, `savage'."

    "That's not it's name!"

    "I'm sorry, its code, `sah-vah-hey'."

    "No, no, no! It's spelt `sah-vah-hey' but it's pronounced `Throatwarbler Mangrove'."
  • Sun has now opened the source to nearly all of Java, while Linux's source is of course all open. Running Java bytecodes calling Java APIs in a VM that then calls native Linux APIs means there's still plenty of "translation" and stacking/calling/jumping overhead and complexity in the usual OS/app config.

    So has anyone hybridized the Java VM with the Linux kernel itself? Directly mapping Java APIs called by app/let bytecodes onto Linux APIs. Maybe just Java integrated to the kernel in a "shell VM", the way tha
    • https://jinux.dev.java.net/ [java.net]

      I don't know how useful it is, but I haven't heard of anyone actually using it either.

      Who actually cares? JIT+VM-in-kernel has been available for many years in the form of Inferno, and nobody cared then either.

      Besides, we already have reasonably light-weight runtimes for Python, Ruby, etc. that perform on embedded devices, with infinitely more expressive power than Java. Even Sun appreciates this and is integrating expressive, dynamic languages into future JDK releases, but the ty
  • "An anonymous reader writes to tell us that this week at the JavaOne Conference, Sun debuted it's answer to the iPhone."

    Who asked the question? Or maybe it's just a Java phone and not necessarily "an answer to iPhone"? Or is this too complex for a journalist to assimilate.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982