I recently noticed that Qualcomm has licensed the ARM1136J-S microprocessor core. The interesting thing to note about this announcement is one of the letters in that microprocessor version: the "J". ARM's 1136J-S is a Jazelle-enabled chip, meaning it's optimized for the Java instruction set; Qualcomm has effectively licensed a processor that will run Java applications more efficiently.
This is not as strange as it sounds: BREW already seems to support Java applications. However, what is not clear is how much they will charge for certifying those applications, bearing in mind their standard certification charges. I'm hoping Qualcomm takes the high road and doesn't charge exorbitant fees for MIDP applications running on their BREW phones. I see the necessity for testing C/C++ code but, as I mentioned last month in my editorial "Has Hell Frozen Over?" (Vol. 7, issue 11), there's no good reason why Java should require the same level of testing. Perhaps you've had experience with BREW; let me know your thoughts.
Nokia has an interesting lineup of new phones (I've already rewritten my letter to Santa accordingly), and all of them appear to be Java-enabled, with the exception (I believe) of the entry-level model. Personally, I think it's unfortunate that Nokia chose to omit MIDP from their most basic phone - it seems to me they're missing a large potential market for Java applications. The teenage/underage market might, in general, want to have the most fashionable (and, consequently, expensive) phones available, but there's a (probably quite high) percentage that won't be able to afford anything but the cheapest. And, as I think I've said before, teenagers are initially the one group likely to get the most use out of downloadable Java applications - especially on the entertainment side of things. Think Pokémon/Digimon, or another of those turn-based monster-training/card swapping/etc. type games, played out over a network among thousands of players...
Speaking of entertainment, another Nokia product announcement caught me by surprise. The N-Gage is a "mobile game deck" that looks rather like a Gameboy Advance but, according to some reports I've read, is not aimed at competing with Nintendo's device. I realize every analyst worth his or her salt is predicting that money will be falling from trees in the wireless games market - we'll all be stuffing it into sacks, using it in our mattresses, and, my own personal favorite, swimming through piles of cash like Scrooge McDuck. Therefore, we're told, the market is potentially large enough to support two, or even more, hand-held games machines.
Inevitably, however, comparisons between the two devices will be made, and you have to wonder how well the N-Gage is going to hold up against a far more established GBA. Of course, one factor in Nokia's favor is that Sega will apparently be developing games for the N-Gage - and it will be interesting to see whether a majority of those games are native to the Series 60 Operating System, or if they're Java-based. If you're interested in learning more, see the excellent Infosync site for more details and a picture of the N-Gage, www.infosync.no/news/2002/n/2548.html.
* * *
In this month's JDJ, Karl McCabe, from Rococo Software, investigates some of the issues surrounding ad hoc networks, while Jeremy Wakefield, Keith Braithwaite, and Tony Robinson look at some of the real-world problems facing MIDP developers.
* * *
One final note: if you're just getting started with J2ME, and bewildered with the array of options that sit beneath the Mobile Edition "umbrella," check out the "Survey of Java Today" at the Wireless Java Web site (http://wireless.java.sun.com/
getstart/articles/survey/) - an excellent summary of the various technologies and how they're put together.
As well as being the J2ME editor for Java Developer's Journal, Jason R. Briggs is a Java programmer and development manager for a wireless technology company, based in Auckland, New Zealand.