Nokia sees progress next year for mobile apps

IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

Nokia Corp. expects work to be wrapped up early next year on a new Java standard that should make it easier to manage business and consumer applications on mobile phones and other wireless devices, Nokia's chief technology officer said Wednesday.

The standard, which is being developed by Nokia, Motorola Inc. and others, includes new management capabilities that should make it easier to deliver applications and software updates to mobile phones, troubleshoot problems remotely, and set access policies for corporate users, said Pertti Korhonen, Nokia's CTO, in a speech at JavaOne Wednesday.

For example, if a user wants to download a new game to his phone and doesn't have the right codec, the new Java standard will let developers package the codec and the game together and deliver them to a user at the same time, installing them while the phone is still running, Korhonen said.

The standard will also provide operators with more information about a user's phone, including the hardware profile, the software installed on it, and "live" statistics such as how much memory is being used. Operators will be able to find the cause of problems more easily and deliver software updates to fix them, Korhonen said.

Essentially, the new standard will provide operators and network managers with some of the same remote management features that are available today for PCs and servers, Korhonen said. "Your phone becomes just like any other node on the network," he said.

The capabilities are part of Java Specification Request 232, which is led by Nokia and Motorola and supported by Vodafone Group, NTT DoCoMo Inc., PalmSource Inc., IBM Corp. and others. It was started about a year ago and originally scheduled for completion about now, according to the Java Community Process Web site, which means it will be several months late when it arrives.

"We hope to have (the) standard completed and published around the first quarter of next year," Korhonen said.

Nokia is also working on middleware that should make it easier for developers to link handheld devices like its 9500 Communicator with backend business applications. Such middleware is more commonly found on servers. "Any of you heard of middleware on the client? That's the new thing," Korhonen told developers in his speech.

About 250 million Java-enabled handsets are in use worldwide and the number is growing by 50 percent a year, Korhonen said. Java handsets have been deployed by 108 mobile operators, providing a fertile market for developers and content providers to make money. "It's all about volumes," he said.

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