Two of Europe's largest mobile phone operators have invested in a US software startup developing an operating system based on Java technology.
Orange and Vodafone, together with a handful of venture capital companies, have invested $17.5m (£11m) in SavaJe Technologies in a drive "for open standards and greater choice", said Vodafone spokesman Jon Earl.
"If operators and their software and application developers are able to utilise open standard platforms, they won't be held to specific handsets and manufacturers," he said. "That means they'll be able to develop and offer applications to customers more easily, quickly and cheaply."
SavaJe is developing Java-based applications and an operating system for wireless devices, and described as "an investment for the mobile industry as a whole".
Vodafone has collaborated with Sharp and Panasonic to introduce camera phones supporting the operator's Live! multimedia messaging service.
Orange will be the first operator in Europe to launch a phone based on Microsoft's Smartphone technology.
Java is already installed in millions of handsets as a means of downloading games and other external applications. Now the company has decided to put a Java-based version of this software, developed by Sun Microsystems at the core of its operating system.
The company's operating system will use Java to run not only installed applications, as well as web services, downloads and wireless upgrades and modifications.
The technology requires no other operating system to function, and Java is the only computing language required to develop applications for devices incorporating the operating system.
Wireless operators and original equipment manufacturers will be able to develop their own customised interfaces, services and applications complete with their own brands.