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Qualcomm BREW platform gets Java boost

Networking technology specialist Qualcomm has announced that a major JVM (Java virtual machine) vendor, Insignia Solutions, will offer its JVM as an extension to its BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) platform.

Insignia Mobile Foundation, which also includes J2ME on the client side, will be downloadable to any of the approximately 2.5 million BREW-enabled phones, according to BREW officials.

The Insignia Java extension to BREW will be deployed by carriers on their networks as well as built into handsets. Users of BREW phones downloading a Java application to their phone will also be loading the JVM along with the application. The Insignia J2ME is a carrier mandated MID-P compliant VM.

Although the number of BREW-enabled phones pales in comparison to total number of phones in the market worldwide, the significance of the announcement should not be overlooked, according to Insignia executives.

"Where Qualcomm had 50,000 developers, they now have 550,000 developers for their platform, said Peter Bernard, vice-president at Insignia.

The integration of Java technology by Qualcomm, the major patent holder for all CDMA networks and devices, gives high-tech companies such as Sun and the carriers supporting Java on handsets a major victory in the battle over which client platform is selected for handsets.

Java developers writing applications for Qualcomm will also benefit, said David Hayden, president of consultancy MobileWeek. "Qualcomm has a good solution that includes billing and all the pieces of the puzzle that integrate with the carriers," said Hayden.

All BREW applications are also posted on the BREW intranet site to which carriers log on. It will allow the carriers and developers to negotiate rights and pricing through e-mail.

On the downside, layering Java on top of BREW could create performance issues because phones were not designed for that capability, Hayden said. "It's like putting one operating system on top of another," said Hayden.

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