Oracle revealed on Tuesday plans for its next-generation mobile and embedded development platform, JavaME 7. JavaME is the mobile system upon which the most intelligent phones were based before there were today's crop of smartphones, and it still powers billions of devices. It is also the thing over which Oracle is suing Google, claiming that Google illegally copied parts of JavaME when creating Android. (We'll quickly note before getting back to JavaME 7 that it looks like Oracle had a point. Earlier this month evidence surfaced that an Android developer did copy nine lines of code from Java, according to a report by MobileMedia )
Once upon a time, JavaME was the greatest thing to hit mobile computing and it can still be found in more than than 3 billion mobile phones and PDAs, according to Oracle. But, as Wikipedia says, "it is becoming dated technology" and is not used by today's smartphones such as the iPhone, Windows Phone 7, or BlackBerry's QNX.
We find it interesting that Oracle chose "iPhone 4S Day" to mention its work on JavaME 7. Under that enormous shadow, Oracle promised that one of its first tasks will be to fix its virtual machine and library specifications to better align ME 7 with the bigger, broader development platform, the Java Development Kit (JDK) 7. This fix and other improvements should allow JavaME developers to create more powerful applications for "feature" phones, i.e. those not running a smartphone operating system, and give users of them a smartphone-like experience.
For instance, JavaME 7 phones may one day support Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile payments, as Oracle is working to bring that to a related Java platform, its smartcard security device known as Java Card. Smartcards are password access keys that gain a user entrance to protected buildings, computers and the like. With the addition of NFC, Java Card technologies will allow secure communication between devices, too, known as machine to machine (M2M) secure networks. Oracle says that M2M networks are already going gangbusters in Europe with over 18 Million Java Card SIMs able to support it.
Presumably, not only will a Java Card one day double as a NFC credit card, but a JavaME 7 not-smartphone imbued with Java Card 4.0 technology will act as both the charge card and the smartcard.
In addition, Oracle is adding new APIs so that the billions of embedded devices using JavaME can also become smarter application platforms, such as TVs. More than 125 million Java-based TV devices have already been deployed, Oracle says.
Oracle on mobiles is history. No developer in his right mind is going to use any form of Java now that Larry Ellison has gone sue-happy. It's far too expensive to defend against Oracle's lawyers; better to develop in Flash or native code, and much, much safer.
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