Where can you go to make your MIDlets available to the public? Let's take a brief tour of some of the Web sites that offer MIDlets to the public and explore some of the factors you should consider.
As with so much in life, one discriminator is money - are you providing your apps for free, or do you want to make money from them? Some sites, such as midlet.org, offer only free MIDlets, so if you want to make money you need to look elsewhere. Some sites provide a mix of free, shareware, and pay-per-download MIDlets, and some provide just the last.
Another factor is which devices your app targets. While "write once, run anywhere" is a nice concept, the range of physical characteristics of MIDP devices, such as screen size and black and white or color, plus whether your app uses additional APIs such as Bluetooth (JSR-82), may limit you to a subset of MIDP devices. If such limitations constrain you to a specific manufacturer or network provider, you may wish to use that vendor or provider's publication and delivery mechanism, as is available at Motorola's www.idendev.com or Cingular's http://alliance.cingularinteractive.com. However, you may not have to restrict yourself to that manufacturer's or provider's Web site(s), as some third-party sites have agreements to distribute MIDlets for manufacturers and providers. For example, Microjava (www.microjava.com) has an agreement with Motorola and Nextel that allows Microjava to certify MIDlets for Motorola/Nextel's iDen phones and distribute those MIDlets to Motorola and Nextel.
Since you probably want to expose your MIDlets to the largest possible set of potential users, place them on a site that generates a lot of traffic. Ideally you'd like to know such things as the number of visitors to the site within a specified period and the number of purchases of similar apps, but this information may not be available. So you might consider other factors instead, such as the site's target audience and how many J2ME apps it currently offers. A site that provides only J2ME apps may draw fewer visitors than one that also provides non-J2ME apps, and a large catalog of apps is likely to draw more visitors than a small catalog.
Handango (www.handango.com) has the largest number of MIDlets by far, offering over 1,700 (counting separate versions of an application for different platforms as separate applications). Because Handango also has many non-J2ME applications, your potential customer pool can include not just the J2ME cognoscenti, but also customers who are unaware of J2ME and come across your application in their quest for the latest addition to their handhelds.
Assuming you're in this for the bucks, how much can you expect to make? Although you may think your wonderful application should command premium rates, in the world of independent MIDlet marketing you need to look to volume for any real profit. In my admittedly cursory survey of pricing, most apps seem to be priced at under $7 per download, with games in the $2-$5 range and a few applications, such as browsers and e-mail viewers, in the $20-$35 range. And, of course, the distributor takes a cut - 30% at Handango and Microjava.
These are only some of the factors to consider when marketing your MIDlets, and I've only mentioned a subset of sites where MIDlets can be published. For a more extensive list visit my Web site at www.oojava.com and click J2ME->Midlet Marketplace.
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Here's real news you can use: registered developers can get a free copy of Metrowerks CodeWarrior Wireless Studio from www.microjava.com or kb.motorola.metrowerks.com/motorola.
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In last month's editorial I misidentified the person at NanoAmp with whom I discussed the technical aspects of their MOCA-J accelerator. Ron Stein provided me with that information, while Jason Steach arranged the discussion. My thanks to both Ron and Jason.
About The Author
Glen Cordrey is a software architect working in the Washington, DC, area. He's been using Java for five years, developing both J2EE and J2ME applications for commercial customers.