Motorola, Lutris Brew Java Handset Apps

Motorola Inc. and Lutris Technologies Inc. are teaming up to jump-start development of wireless business applications for Motorola's forthcoming iDEN handset.

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Motorola Inc. and Lutris Technologies Inc. are teaming up to jump-start development of wireless business applications for Motorolas forthcoming iDEN handset.

The two companies this week will announce a deal to bundle Lutris open-source Enhydra application server with Motorolas Software Developers Kit for iDEN (integrated Digital Enhanced Network) handset. Developers will then be able to create both server-side and client-side software that takes advantage of Sun Microsystems Inc.s Java 2 Micro Edition, or J2ME, specifications.

The iDEN handset, which is a mobile computing device that transmits both voice and data, is slated for release in the first half of next year and is expected to be the first such device compliant with J2ME.

Developers say that J2ME, once it matures, is going to bust the wireless market wide open because it gives them much more freedom than WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). That protocol is the default standard for wireless applications but doesnt allow for any manipulation of the browser. J2ME lets developers load "midlets," which are like high-powered applets for the phone.

J2ME "allows a handset to do more than WAP, and thats what were excited about," said Nathaniel Freitas, chief technology officer at ThinAirApps Inc., a wireless messaging software provider in New York. "This gets you beyond a browser model and gets you to an application model on the phone."

By shipping the platform before the handsets, Motorola, of Schaumburg, Ill., is hoping to create demand. Expected applications for iDEN will go beyond just the news and chat applications common with WAP-enabled phones and will take on true business needs such as logistics management and alerts, Lutris officials said. The Santa Cruz, Calif., company already has a sample application for a bicycle messenger company that would allow messengers to receive work orders and directions and confirm deliveries through their phones.

The agreement calls for joint sales and marketing efforts between the two companies, as well as bundling of the Motorola SDK with Version 3.5 of the Enhydra application server, which is slated to ship this month. Enhydra will redistribute the iDEN SDK and emulator, and Motorola will bundle the Enhydra application server with the SDK.

Application developers need to accelerate their wireless efforts, said Bob Egan, an analyst with Gartner Group Inc., in Stamford, Conn. The handset manufacturers and network operators have made deep investments in the technology, and now its the developers turn to belly up to the bar, Egan added.

"Otherwise, this market is dead on arrival," he said. "The application developers really havent embraced this stuff yet."