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Experts Talk About New MSA Standard, Give Update on The Latest Mobile Java Platform

Industry Leaders Rally Behind the MSA Standard

Ericsson

"The finalization of JSR 248 specification is an important milestone in the evolution of Java ME and is one of the main keys to reducing fragmentation on the Java ME market," said Jörgen Lantto, head of System Management, Ericsson BU Multimedia. "As a part of our Mobile Platforms offering, Ericsson has already incorporated an implementation of JSR 248 in our product portfolio, all to enable a rapid uptake of new and innovative Java based services on mass market devices"

Jean-Marie Dautelle

"When your cell-phone allows you to see your current location on a 3-D map, you can thank the Mobile Service Architecture (MSA) for that, when your applications including Vector Graphic, Bluetooth, Messaging work in unison, you can thank MSA for that too, and if it becomes a lot easier to develop mobile applications you can thank MSA again," said Jean-Marie Dautelle, member on the JCP Java ME Executive Committee. "MSA is a boon for all - developers, manufacturers, operators, enterprises, consumers alike."

Nokia

"Nokia is pleased to announce the completion of Mobile Service Architecture Specification JSR 248 together with Vodafone, Sun and other contributing companies. This is a significant milestone towards a predictable, non-fragmented Java platform for the mobile market," said Pentti Savolainen, director, Standardization, Software Platforms, Nokia. "In order to ensure that developers will have a clear evolution path and a wide addressable market for their applications, Nokia will be including support for JSR 248 in its S60 3rd Edition and Series 40 software platforms."

Orange

"Orange is highly committed to reduce Java fragmentation in the mobile environment, as such Orange believe that JSR 248/MSA is a key achievement in Java standards as it allows operators, handset manufacturers and developer communities to rely on consistent Java mobile platforms, supporting attractive service features and capabilities and targeting a wide range of devices & customers, in a very near future," said Philippe Lucas, vice president, International Standards & Industry Relationships at France Telecom/Orange.

Sony Ericsson

"Sony Ericsson applauds the release of this key JSR. With MSA, consumers, developers, operators, and handset vendors now have a clearly defined set of expectations for the next generation of Java on mobile phones. Sony Ericsson looks forward to continuing its work with the Java community together with other leading industry players to enhance technology to better serve mobile consumer needs," said Jeff Griffin, senior staff engineer, Software at Sony Ericsson and the company's representative on the Jave ME Executive Committee.

Sun Microsystems

"Java technology provides the single platform that enables mobile applications to be created and deployed across multiple devices. Building on the more than 1.5 billion Java technology-enabled phones in the market today, MSA will move the mobile industry forward by enabling advanced capabilities that developers can leverage to create cool, new applications and services for the next-generation of mobile phones," said Laurie Tolson, vice president of Client Software Group at Sun. "In addition, MSA helps to establish a consistency in implementations of the specification, which will help to reduce industry fragmentation. Sun is pleased to support this new specification throughout our mobile product offerings."

Vodafone

"The Mobile Service Architecture Specification JSR 248 is of great importance for Vodafone to help establish a consistent platform for new innovative mobile services," said Reinhard Kreft, Vodafone?s head of Industry Initiatives and Standardization.

"We have been working on this standard since late 2004 as a specification leader together with Nokia, and welcomed its completion late last year. MSA describes the major components of an end-to-end wireless Java environment and helps developers to make even better use of Java in creating feature-rich applications and services.

"For developers, MSA will help to reduce variations in interfaces among different manufacturers. It will also introduce an element of self governance in providing corrections, clarifications, and recommendations on how to build a powerful platform for Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC) specification mobile devices in a consistent way across the industry."

Wednesday, February 28, at the W Hotel in San Francisco, Expert Group members of Java Specification Request (JSR) 248, Mobile Services Architecture (MSA), and Java Micro Edition (ME) Executive Committee members of the Java Community Process (JCP) program held a panel discussion on the significance of the new MSA standard.

The panel was hosted by Onno Kluyt, senior director of the JCP program at Sun Microsystems and Chair of the JCP. Onno kicked off the event by characterizing the new standard as a "major two-year undertaking" that completed at the end of 2006. JSR 248 was spearheaded by co-Spec Leads Nokia and Vodafone. They were assisted by an Expert Group consisting of twelve additional companies, including BEA, BenQ, Cingular Wireless, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, Orange France, RIM, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Sprint, Sun Microsystems, and T-Mobile International. Present at the event were representatives from Orange, Sony Ericsson, Sun, and Jean-Marie Dautelle, individual developer and member of the ME Executive Committee.

This event was the first opportunity after the completion of JSR 248, MSA, to engage in a dialogue with Java ME experts who developed the standard and are already involved in the development of the next mobile architecture. During the evening, press and analysts were informed about the latest updates on the Mobile Java platform and invited to ask questions of the panel. The panelists discussed the significance of the MSA standard in how it simplifies the Java ME technology landscape and makes it much easier to develop for mobile handsets.

"Developers don't really care about millions of device details," said panelist Cuihtlauac Alvarado, Orange, ME Executive Committee representative and MSA Expert Group member. "They just want to be able to understand things and minimize the complexity of the applications. That's why they need a platform that behaves the same, with the same characteristics, as universally as possible. It's taken almost two years just to collect all the devices in all the areas that might potentially implement MSA, a complex task."

As panelist Jeff Griffin of Sony Ericsson explained it, JSR 248, MSA, is unusual in that it is an "umbrella" platform encompassing a collection of mandatory and optional Java specifications. These specifications can be mixed and matched to address the requirements of any given mobile device that conforms primarily to the Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC) specification, but can also be implemented in the Connected Device Configuration (CDC) environment. While there are numerous specifications to choose from under the umbrella JSR, developers will appreciate the efficiency of having only one Reference Implementation (prototype) to understand and only one Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK) to assure that implementations are MSA-compliant.

The MSA Expert Group members on the panel explained the capabilities of MSA, how it contributes to the reduction of fragmentation, and how it provides a path for future progress. The press wondered about the lag time between releases of MSA, noting the potential for renewed fragmentation in the industry as creative innovation speeds ahead. To that point, Onno observed that innovation and standardization are both necessary, and that a time differential may be a small price to pay for the resulting benefits. He said, "Innovation doesn't happen on a uniform scale; it goes in fits and starts. With a standard, I think it's very important that it is allowed to work at its own time line so there is sufficient consensus in the industry of the standard that is to be adopted. Innovation and standards may go along in the same direction, but not necessarily at the same speed."

The panelists also set expectations regarding the mobile market's move to MSA-compliant handsets in the future, suggesting that products would begin rolling out from various vendors over the next six to twelve months. "Our users want to customize phones with applications, not just pictures and ring tones, and Java is the best option available today to let users select from a variety of content," said Jeff Griffin. "There are more than a billion phones out there with Java on them today. And there are lots and lots of developers who are trained to use it. This adds value to our platform in a way that makes it more flexible and more useful to our users. Sony Ericsson sees MSA as critical in the next phase of making Java more relevant and more useful than before."

The individual options specified under MSA are supremely cool from a user's perspective. Who wouldn't want video or GPS capability on their mobile phone, for example? However, panelist Calinel Pasteanu, Sun, ME Executive Committee representative and MSA Expert Group member, prefers to look at the impact of MSA on the broader landscape. He said, "We talk about killer apps, and which of the JSRs under the MSA umbrella might be a killer app. Why are we not also talking about killer platforms? MSA is a killer platform in the sense that it is homogeneous through all devices, vendor-independent."

Clearly, MSA is the way of the mobile future, and the Expert Group is already hard at work on the next version of the platform, JSR 249, MSA Advanced. The benefits of MSA are tremendous for developers, manufacturers, operators, enterprises, and consumers alike.

For more information about JSR 248, MSA, go to http://jcp.org/en/jsr/detail?id=248.

For an overview of the JCP program, visit http://jcp.org/en/introduction/overview.