Mobile Java has taken a major step forward in becoming a serious tool for the wireless enterprise with the release by IBM Corp and PalmOne Inc of an updated developer toolkit for the latter’s high-end devices.
The latest beta version of IBM’s WebSphere Micro Environment Toolkit for Palm OS is intended to allow developers to prepare Java 2 Micro Edition-based business applications for PalmOne’s Tungsten PDAs and Treo 600 smart phone, prior to the introduction next spring of compatible client runtime software for the devices.
The latest toolkit is designed to take advantage of the native Java runtime built into the ARM-based chips used in PalmOne’s business-oriented machines. This enables J2ME applications to execute at the hardware level, maximizing performance compared with devices that run J2ME virtual machines on top of a host operating system.
The new release supports both the CLDC 1.1 (connected limited device configuration) and MIDP 2.0 (mobile information device profile) specifications of Sun Microsystems’ J2ME, making it compatible with many existing J2ME applications developed for other devices, as well as software developed specifically for PalmOne devices. By extension, the services should also be available for other Palm OS handheld based using ARM-derived chips.
The launch of the latest WebSphere toolkit for Palm OS, which is still the most widely used mobile device operating system, marks something of a coming of age for J2ME as an enterprise-capable technology, tying the technology closely to business applications connected to a WebSphere back end.
This is where you might see a little bit of a turn of the wheel. PalmOne effectively inherits Java developers for free, Letina Connelly, director worldwide pervasive strategy and marketing with IBM told ComputerWire.
Connelly was particularly enthused about the implications of IBM’s new toolkit for wireless wide area network capable mobile devices. [IBM and PalmOne] have made a joint investment to understand the Treo device. It will bring the Java developer community into the smart phone arena, she said.
IBM has been building its influence in the mobile application space over the last few months, with an emphasis firmly on J2ME and web services. In September, IBM and Research In Motion Ltd announced a tie-up to link the latter’s J2ME-based BlackBerry messaging devices into the IBM’s WebSphere Everyplace Access mobile middleware.
This followed the June disclosure of a link-up between IBM and Palm OS developer PalmSource Inc to extend development of web services applications from WebSphere to Palm OS-powered mobile devices. PalmSource and IBM said their intention was to build a web services software stack that will be integrated into Palm OS, making WebSphere-based web services applications available to users of devices from any of PalmSource’s many licensees.
The latest announcement from Palm OS licensee PalmOne is a clear extension of this trend. While IBM’s recent activities with mobile devices have not explicitly mentioned Windows Mobile-powered options, Connelly was quick to point out that the company was not exhibiting favoritism towards non-Microsoft platforms.
We’re clearly trying to help Symbian and Palm OS but the WebSphere Everyplace Access product was first introduced on [Microsoft] Pocket PC, said Connelly.
This article is based on material originally produced by ComputerWire.