Nokia Pours Java Into Cell Phones

The world's biggest cell phone maker, Finland's Nokia, has adopted Java as the basis for software on its future cellular phone and combined phone/handheld device.

The worlds biggest cell phone maker, Finlands Nokia, has adopted Java as the basis for software on its future cellular phone and combined phone/handheld device. The company expects to have 100 million Java phones in the hands of users by the end of 2003.

Java is currently in use on about 3 million phones, mainly in a new service launched by NTT DoCoMo and two other cellular operators in Japan earlier this year. The commitment by Nokia last week at JavaOne means that Sun Microsystems Java 2 Micro Edition now stands a good chance of dominating development for sophisticated cell phones and other mobile devices. Micro Edition is a stripped-down version of Java for mobile and embedded devices.

Speaking at JavaOne, the developers conference in San Francisco, Nokia President Pekka Ala-Pietilä said Java will be the basis for new "intimate, personalized and localized services." Cellular phone companies in the future will offer an initial service package as they do today, but their real opportunity may lie with customers "impulse use of services" that they access and pay for on an as-needed basis, Ala-Pietilä said.

Java phones started appearing in the U.S. in April in the form of Motorola i85s phones, offered first by Nextel Communications and then by Pacific Wireless Technologies and Southern Linc.

The i85s represents more processing power than most cell phones and includes 256 kilobytes of memory for small Java applications, said Motorola spokesman David Kurt. Java phones currently represent the high end of cellular service, with Motorola retailing the i85s for $199.

Nokia will make the ability to run Java applets a standard across its product line. "Java will be added to all our mobile phone categories," Ala-Pietilä said.

Many in the industry believe that most other phone makers will begin to include Java in their phones as well. "We expect that all manufacturers will provide Java-enabled handsets," said Ozgur Aytar, an analyst at The Strategis Group.

In addition, Nokia hopes to popularize its Nokia 9290 Communicator in North America this year.

The 9290 Communicator is a combined cell phone and handheld computing device, and is Nokias first device based on the Symbian mobile device operating system, which is also capable of running Java applications.

Motorola, Nokia, Psion and other companies jointly sponsor the Symbian system.