Sun Microsystems' latest initiatives and products for mobile computing should have an impact across cellular carriers, enterprises and mobile application developers.
The company is meeting potential customers at the ITU Telecom World 2003 in Geneva to discuss their requirements, and later today (Tuesday) Sun will unveil a joint offering with Lucent Technologies to give enterprises greater productivity through unified communications. All the pieces will be in place and available by the end of this year or earlier.
At the heart of most of Sun's mobile plans coming out this week is Java which, the company said, now runs on about 120 million mobile handsets.
Sun's Java Mobility Advantage programme will provide resources to developers at carriers and mobile content companies wanting to create Java-based applications and services for mobile phones. It also has assembled a network of testing organisations so carriers and content providers can outsource the testing of software before it goes out to customers.
Hardware testing is also part of the initiative - Sun and several major handset manufacturers have developed a test suite for Java-enabled devices which both they and mobile operators can license. It will become generally available this week.
Sun also has teamed up with partners to create the iForce Solution for Telecommunications Service Delivery, a combination of hardware and software for wireless operators to create, deploy and manage new data services.
It will let the operators integrate those new services with existing ones, so a new service, such as messaging, can take advantage of existing ones such as voicemail, said David Orain, a telecommunications industry business manager at Sun.
The system will be available to carriers by the end of the year. Prices will vary based on the size of the deployment.
To get Java-based and other data applications out to mobile customers, Sun is introducing the Sun One (Open Network Environment) Content Delivery Server, a software platform based on technology Sun acquired through its acquisition of Pixo earlier this year.
The platform can support most data-enabled phones, and can be used to distribute offerings such as ring tones and screen wallpaper to a variety of types of handsets. The Content Delivery Server is available to carriers now, priced on a per-subscriber basis.
Also at ITU, Sun is discussing the iForce Solution for Enhanced Communications, which it will offer jointly with Lucent. It will be able to bring together many communication and information tools in a service hosted entirely by the carrier.
With such a service, a unified portal on an enterprise employee's PC could include a software-based phone, voicemail, e-mail, messaging, calendar and directory. Such a service could be adapted to work with IP phones or traditional phones. That offering will be available by the end of the year, although no pricing details are available.
Stephen Lawson writes for IDG news Service