Sun Microsystems formalized its efforts to drive Java technology into consumer and embedded applications with the formation of the Java Consumer Business Alliance Program. This program aims to coordinate communication between Sun and its partners to help move Java technology into a wide range of devices. Nine companies have already joined the program including Applix, Geoworks, Lucent Technologies, Microtec, Microware, NSI, ObjectSpace, PSW, and Spyglass.
The partners in the alliance will work with device manufacturers to customize EmbeddedJava or PersonalJava software solutions and to provide integration services to accelerate the deployment of Java software products.
Todd Courtois, a senior software engineer at Spyglass, said the Alliance helps formalize the working relationship between Sun and these other companies that was already operating on an informal basis. He noted, "Before, it was vague [figuring out] how to connect with us. Now, when we need special help, we know who to talk to. The Alliance has made the relationship much tighter than before."
Some partners have already announced their own programs for creating Java applications. For example, Spyglass announced the Java Consulting Practice to work with consumer electronics, telecommunications, cable, and direct satellite companies that are incorporating the Java platform in their products. Spyglass is also working with Sun on Personal WebAccess, a feature-rich browser designed to run in constrained environments.
The PersonalJava platform also received a major boost from various licensing deals by Sun and its partners. Earlier this week, Scientific Atlanta agreed to use PersonalJava in its Explorer 2000 digital set-top box. This follows a recent announcement by Cable TV giant TCI that it would use the PersonalJava platform in its set-top boxes. These announcements will help drive Java technology deep into the North American Cable TV market. David Kimble, Digital Television Product Manager at Microware noted, "The cable companies would love to get out of the business of leasing boxes. Having a standard approach like Java makes it easier to do that."
Microware announced it was working with Ericsson and Nortel on the development of Java platform-enabled wireless telephones. These phones are expected to begin shipping later this year.