Qualcomm brews Java alternative for cellphones

IDG News Service |  Development

"The major reason for this was new applications. At this point in time, they have to be programmed by handset manufacturers individually, therefore it all depends upon development of applications on the part of the manufacturers," he said. "At the same time, it also depends on the difficulty involved with software development and these have resulted in delays in handset shipments."

"Brew will resolve this problem," he said, because the handsets will not have to be reprogrammed for new services.

Carriers will also be able to offer advanced wireless services across a wider range of devices because Brew can run on all types handsets, including low-end models, because it requires just 100K bytes of memory and does not require sophisticated hardware support.

That also brings benefits for the user, said Jacobs. "What you will see is faster operation and more responsive applications ... the virtual machine with Java requires a lot of processing power because it is an interpreted environment instead of a native environment. The applications will run faster and we will also have richer, more complex applications running on top of Brew because you have deeper access to the functions in the phone."

The Brew system does away with the sandbox approach to security that Java uses, where applications are free to run in a protected area of the device. Instead, Brew applications will be certified error and virus free by Qualcomm and signed with a digital key so that devices can run software with no fear of rogue applications.

The company is moving fast to deploy Brew. Memorandums of understanding have already been signed with a number of wireless carriers including DDI Corp. in Japan, Verizon Wireless Inc. in the U.S., Korea Telecom Freetel in South Korea and Pegaso in Mexico. Major manufacturers including Kyocera Corp., which bought Qualcomm's handset business, and Samsung Electronics Inc. are also on board, the company said.

"We hope to see initial Brew enabled applications and services come available to subscribers here in Japan sometime this year," said Jacobs. DDI said it has not decided on a schedule for roll-out of Brew enabled handsets but expects them on the market by the end of this year.

The companies are already playing catch-up. NTT DoCoMo Inc. began selling a new range of handsets that support Java applets at the weekend and an initial batch of around 30 services, ranging from games to animated clocks to scrolling stock tickers is already available on the I-Appli service, a part of its hit I-mode wireless Internet service.

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