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Along with many others, I've believed for quite some time now that there must be a change in the custodianship of Java for the platform to survive these uncertain times. My personal belief is that any future custodian of the Java platform must be an organization of community members (both corporate and individual) working toward definable open-source goals. Take the best from the JCP, the Apache model, the Linux/Kernel semi-dictatorship model, etc., and build something new to lead us forward.

I have numerous reasons for thinking this - too many to go into detail here - and I recently added a new reason to the list (a comment that has been said before by wiser minds than myself): Sun might talk the talk, but they definitely don't walk the walk.

Case in point: the early access release of the J2ME Wireless Toolkit 2.0 (Beta 1), now available for the following platforms:

Windows

Does this strike anyone else as vaguely sacrilegious? Why is it not completely Java and available to any supported platform? Why is there not a download available for Solaris, Linux, Mac, and any other Java 1.4.x supporting platform I care to think of?

I'm sure someone will come up with the argument that there are platform-specific facilities built into the Toolkit that make porting it to other platforms more difficult; hence a Solaris/Linux port won't be immediately available, and certainly not available for the first beta. That's not the point. Ninety-nine percent of the Toolkit should be built in Java. Call me a die-hard purist if you want, but anything that simply has to be coded in C/C++ (and therefore rewritten for each platform) should be an optional feature that isn't required in order for the software to run.

This unwillingness to toe the philosophical line, in my view, is yet another reason why Sun is the wrong guardian for Java. However, don't get me wrong; this doesn't come out of some misguided dislike for Sun as a whole, rather it comes from a desire to see the platform - in all its forms, not just J2ME - survive an increasingly embattled position. A united front by definition has to be stronger, and you're more likely to see a united front if companies feel they can have more personal ownership of the platform.

Of course, the other advantage of having a more open custodianship of Java is that when they release a toolkit for only one platform, people like me can say things like..."Doesn't this strike anyone else as vaguely sacrilegious...blah blah blah." And maybe, just maybe, they might actually be heard.

*  *  *

"Crud." If you have an e-mail address, you get a lot of it. If you're one of the editors of a magazine, there must be a Murphy's Law somewhere that says you're in for an exponential increase in the amount of "crud" that filters through your inbox. Occasionally, among all the "you might already be a winner, click now!," "try our natural remedy for guys who have trouble rising to the occasion," and "me and my 18-year old sister took photos of ourselves at the beach, check them out here" e-mails (yes, I actually did get that last one; where do these people get my address?) that magically filter themselves into my trash can, something comes along that might actually be worth reading. Of course, among all the other rubbishy titles, it can sometimes be hard for a poor, defenseless e-mail to attract my attention. But "Java [mobile] games to be worth over US$3 billion" will definitely do it.

As many will already be aware, I don't put much credence in the opinions of most analysts - a certain choice few, with the prerequisite of actually having a sense of humor being the exception (you know who you are, John J.). Hence, I view any claims of enormous amounts of money rolling in by a certain date and time with a degree of skepticism. However, the amount isn't really the important issue in this case. What is important is that there is a realization outside of the immediate J2ME developer community that Java games for mobile phones will be a big thing in the years to come. US$3 billion or not, if you need any validation that J2ME is the space to be in, this is it.

Author Bio
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. [email protected]

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