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Wired With Wireless - Brewing Java For Wireless

Harin S Grewal, Assistant Director, Innovation & Wireless Division, IDA Singapore - Speech SIEMENS Wireless Java Enabling Workshop, Holiday Inn Park View Singapore, 30 May 2002

Harin S Grewal, Assistant Director, Innovation & Wireless Division, IDA Singapore - Speech
SIEMENS Wireless Java Enabling Workshop, Holiday Inn Park View
Singapore, 30 May 2002

Mr Rick Pryor, Senior VP, Siemens IC Mobile, Singapore,
Ladies & Gentlemen:

All of you are pioneers.

Seeing wireless developers and current day wireless applications brings back memories of the early days of DOS programs. Applications that basically had to cope with text-based monochrome displays which slowly evolved to CGA. Developers who struggled with 64K memory limitations, and considered 640 K to be a limitless amount of memory. Seeing how PC applications have evolved, I am convinced that the parallels will apply to mobile data as well. We are already seeing a new generation of devices with larger, colour displays, polyphonic sound, cursors and joysticks etc. We are also starting to get used to the idea that our mobile devices keep us always connected. What we have lacked up to this point, is a common language and a common platform for developers to build applications. Given such a platform, I believe the applications for mobile phones will be no less compelling than the applications we are used to on our desktops. It is only a matter of time.

Today, we see some hope and some promise in J2ME as such a platform.

A very good morning to everyone! I would like to thank Siemens for inviting IDA to say a few words at today's workshop. I would like to take this opportunity to outline IDA's commitment and efforts in the area of Wireless Java.

Potential Of Java in Wireless

First and foremost, I think it is important to answer the question, "Why Java?". I think we can all agree that the mobile phone has the potential to become the personal computing device of choice. Twenty years from now, when we say "Personal Computer", we will probably be referring to our mobile phone or PDA. Although, it is still essentially a communication device, we now already have the ability to browse WAP sites using the wireless networks, and also to carry out limited transactions with some of these sites. The logical next step is to have your favourite applications residing on your phone, and communicating with the network whenever necessary.

There are a couple of ways to do this, one way is for Siemens or Nokia to preload THEIR favourite applications on your phone. The other way is to buy, download or write your own applications and truly personalize your phone. The challenge for developers like you, then, is - do I have to write 20 versions of my application for 20 models of phones. This is where J2ME comes in with the promise of write once, run anywhere.

A promising sign for J2ME is the overwhelming success of Java based mobile applications in Korea and Japan. One of the wireless magazines quoted in a recent article that the REAL World Cup is the competition between Korea and Japan as to who can deliver better Java based World Cup applications.

While we are on the subject of promising signs for J2ME, I think it is important to note that ALL the major handphone manufacturers have indicated strong support and commitment to J2ME.

Devleoping Java For Wireless In Singapore

Recognising the potential for Wireless Java, IDA has been active in promoting and facilitating the development and deployment of Wireless Java.

In June last year, IDA helped to establish the Java Wireless Competency Centre. This centre was a collaboration between Sun Microsystems, the Centre for Wireless Communications and the IDA. I'm happy to announce that the centre is now fully operational and is located at Science Park 2. We hope that the JWCC will be a regional hot bed for software R&D, testing, and integration of wireless stacks.

In order to accelerate the development and launch of J2ME applications, IDA announced a Wireless Java CFC in February this year. We received over 40 applications for the CFC, and 2 weeks ago we made funding offers to 6 of those projects. The total value of the Wireless Java CFC projects is S$1.8 million, of which IDA will support approximately 40%.

Finally, IDA has also been working with the network operators and the handset manufacturers to ensure the smooth deployment of provisioning infrastructure for J2ME. It is heartening to note that all the mobile operators have shown very keen interest in J2ME and are working actively to put in place their Java provisioning systems.


To sum up, I would like to offer a challenge to all you developers out there.

Gartner and others have indicated that Java is already one of the leading development platforms in the world today. The world is full of talented Java programmers, and many of them are sitting right here in this room. What remains is for all you Java developers to take the mobile platform seriously.

Analysts and mobile operators know that voice revenues are dwindling. More and more of their revenues will come from data, from content, services and applications. In the internet world, everything is almost free. Not so in the wireless world. There is still money to be made if you move fast and this has been convincingly demonstrated in Japan and Korea.

However, the developments of Java in these two markets have been highly fragmented and neither one of them is strictly J2ME and neither one of them targets GSM based phones. As far as the market for GSM J2ME applications is concerned, the race is still out there to be won.

With the introduction of Java-enabled handsets such as Siemens SL45i and its M50, as well as the infrastructure made available through the Java Wireless Competency Centre and Siemens ICM Mobiliser, developers can indeed look forward to an increasing pool of resources and tools to build your Java applications for Singapore and beyond.

By the end of this year, I expect there to be at least 8 to 10 different Java enabled phone models on the market. By the end of this year, the operators should also be raring to go with their Java provisioning infrastructure. So what we need from YOU by the end of this year is the compelling applications that will make people say "All I want for Christmas is a Java phone!"

I would like to congratulate Siemens, Sun and Borland, on the launch of the 1st Singapore Wireless Java Challenge. Like you, they are also J2ME pioneers.

Thank you.