The claim is that J2ME is too much of a hassle, first because of itscarrier related problems, and in the end the result on devices doesn't look too good anyway due to the platform limitations.
To sum up - don't get me wrong, I believe that iPhone and Android are both great and promising platforms that open new possibilities for mobile developers, and we can already see its effects on the platforms market. There's nothing like a competitor "breathing on your neck" to get you finally going faster... But: Don't focus all your energy there. Pay attention to the platforms that are currently in the hands of your users, and that in spite of how things look like now, will probably stay there, at least enough to make you get used to them...
Terrence Barr said...
Excellent post - I think you've summed it up nicely.
A few details to add on Java ME:
- MSA (Mobile Services Architecture/JSR 248) has been shipping on mass-market phones for nearly a year now and offers a very rich feature set including LBS and Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) - and the new VM stacks are generally quite good, too
- Coupled with LWUIT (http://lwuit.dev.java.net) you can create some very compelling applications today on mass-market devices and upwards, definitely competitive with iPhone and Android
- MIDP 3, available in the not-too-distant future, will provide another quantum leap for the Java ME platform
- Lastly, Java ME is the only platform that is fully available in open source, with live repositories, buildable code, and a vibrant community behind it http://www.mobileandembedded.org)
July 24, 2008 3:28 PM
Dale L. Larson said...
This is a technical answer to only part of a business problem.
I think that Apps are the new Singles and AppStore transforms the whole business the way iTunes changed digital music -- talking about digital formats wasn't relevant once there was a complete ecosystem change.
Whatever is done to make it easier to develop apps on J2ME, the problems still exist from the consumer side. No matter how many of those devices are in the field if few apps are going to be purchases on them anyway.
Discovery, purchase, installation and use are still so much more difficult than on the iPhone that sales are severely limited compared to what will be seen with the AppStore. Not to mention the costs of revenue sharing with carriers and the issues dealing with pSMS for developer and consumer alike.
The best reason to develop for AppStore has nothing to do with shiny new technology and everything to do with a good business case to develop with the least hassle to reach the largest possible number of consumers actually likely to find and buy your app with a good percentage of that revenue going to the developer.
July 24, 2008 4:28 PM
Adrian Cockcroft said...
It really depends whether you want to look forwards or backwards. Low risk, just get something simple done, and you already have a channel to deliver the app to users, use the J2ME, BREW etc. platforms. If you want to do something that hasn't been done before, get exposure, capture a high market share and mindshare, then you need to aggressively adopt new platforms like iPhone and Android.
The key thing that has happened is that the bar has been raised. There is now a new lowest common denominator platform (iPhone) that has enough volume to attract applications, and supports features as standard that J2ME developers have to dream about or implement themselves.
July 24, 2008 6:09 PM
Jon Bostrom said...
As one of the creators of Mobile Java I am concerned that it has not kept up with the market. That is why I created JSR 232 with OSGi. Sprint has taken a big step by launching Their Titan CDC OSGi platform for Mobile. This will bring the same kind of features that has driven OSGi to be so successful on the server to Mobile. It also allows developers to create UI in browser or flash and then do business logic etc in OSGi. This is a game changer for mobile Java!
July 25, 2008 8:49 PM
Faisal Memon said...
Dale Larson's comment is completely
spot on. I've talked to app
developers, seen presentations from
3rd party software developers, etc.
and they all say that:
1. You write a great app.
2. Customers don't download it
- download cost!
3. Handset vendors don't pre-install it
- they take a large $ cut
- pre-qualification fees & process
- security certificate signing
4. Second class citizen problem
- apps don't match native UI L&F
- app lives in its own world; not
part of a continuous UI workflow
Unless you've already bedded in
your brand and got users on-board
(e.g. you are a facebook.com) your
opportunities are low indeed.
I claim that the only way to make
a success of mobile app development
is to first make a success as a
web app, or PC app.
I'm a big fan of Java ME (I worked
at Sun, and also worked at
Esmertec porting the JVM), and
know the complaints because lots
of folks come to us (I work at
Symbian) to complain about the
The solution is really something
like the iTunes Music store maybe
with some of the architectural
niceness that Android gives you.
Maybe a hybrid solution will be
forged on the (upcoming) Symbian
July 26, 2008 7:11 PM
Yusuf Motiwala said...
Excellent post Ofir!
July 28, 2008 11:44 AM
Bertrand Louveau said...
Very interesting post. I fully agree with you. J2ME is not dead and it will take a lot of time, efforts, money etc … before the other platforms can get the same market share.
Beyond J2ME, we will always have to solve the fragmentation issues: even between the 2 iphones there are fragmentation, you can not plug into the version 2 the applications developed for version 1…
This is a big challenge for a company like us to offer a porting software solution across the platform and this is where our positioning as “Devices Knowledge” specialist is important . You all know that Mobile Distillery is focused on providing with Celsius a Dev & Porting solution, but we also offer access to the developer to all the knowledge of the devices: our Alembic search engine allows developers to select particular features or JSR, and get in return a list of all addressable devices on the global market. All the parameters provided (almost 850) are fully tested on real devices.
If we want J2ME to stay alive we need to make sure that more and more content will be developed.
July 28, 2008 1:56 PM
J2ME and BREW r very important as well as common name in the world of mobile.
July 28, 2008 2:16 PM
very good post. totally agree w/ you. and I agree w/ the other folks here who said the real problem is about application discovery, download, cost. That is the fundamental problem that must be addressed...
August 6, 2008 2:51 AM
Excellent dissertation and discussion - from a technology driven perspective.
So what do the users really want to do with the mobile thing? talk, chat, play games, listen to music, watch videos. what else? What is it they are not doing adequately? The thing about imaginative understanding of user needs is that often it is not the thing that is widely done yet, but the indicators are there.
I think that feature is sharing - in a true sense of the word, spontaneous sharing when you are with friends. Like when you are with a group of friends at a dinner party, beach, on a mountain top, etc. Do you really want to download (or can you?) to youtube or flicker and then tell them to pick it up? Oh, the smart intellectuals may point out since the group is already with you, they are not the target, but the others not with you. True but that does not diminish the needs of those with you! What if it can be done?
Yeah! we can with Bluetooth - says another.
That does not take into account the trends of technology - these mobiles are getting richer in features and capabilities - 5MP camera phones are now available, music videos are at least 3MB, not to mention high def handheld devices.
The question is what physical link on the mobile will enable sharing of next gen content between peer-to-peer (ie mobile to mobile)?
September 20, 2008 8:33 PM