Google Android leaves Sun wondering

Sun VP Gosling says no business model offered for much-hyped mobile platform; thus, no position can be taken

While Google's Android SDK for mobile applications could become a formidable competitor to Sun's own Java platform, Sun vice president James Gosling said Wednesday it is not possible for Sun to take a position on Android.

Speaking at the Java Mobile & Embedded Developer Days conference at Sun headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., Gosling cited insufficient information from Google.

"It's impossible to have a position [on Android], right, because there is no data," he said when interviewed at the event. "Over the last couple of years, Google's been showing their phone at telecom conferences all over the world and with different business models, all of which really scared the carriers and handset makers. And then with Android, they put out a bag of code with no business model.

"Unless the day comes when they say what they're going to do with it, it's just a bag of code sitting out there," Gosling said.

There has been speculation that Android, which leverages Java, could fragment the Java platform. Android was announced Nov. 5 by the Open Handset Alliance. This group features Google and other participants looking to foster innovation on mobile phones and offer a better consumer experience, according to a press statement.

An Android SDK has leveraged both the Eclipse open source platform and Java classes. Android applications are written using the Java programming language, according to a Google FAQ about Android dated Dec. 14.

Google could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

A speaker at Wednesday's conference, however, gave Android a thumbs-up.

"I like some of the capability in the Android platform," said Sean O'Sullivan, CTO of Rococo Software, who presented on Java Specification Request (JSR) 82 pertaining to Java APIs for Bluetooth. "In particular, I like the ability to customize lots of different elements within the Android platform."

Sun, meanwhile, is moving Java ME (Micro Edition) technologies to smaller systems such as microcontrollers, while Java SE (Standard Edition) capabilities are due to be offered on newer cell phones with greater functionality, Sun officials said at the conference. Java SE capabilities are expected to be included in the planned JavaFX Mobile platform for cell phones and devices.

Also at the event, Sun announced the open-sourcing of the Squawk virtual machine, which is a Java ME-compliant virtual machine used in the Sun SPOT platform. Other components of Sun SPOT, including libraries, will be open-sourced at a later date after more due diligence, said Roger Meike, director of operations in Sun Microsystems Labs, which has overseen the Sun SPOT project.

Sun hopes by releasing Squawk, developers will extend it beyond mobile phones. Squawk and Sun SPOT are already being used in applications such as robotics.

Also open-sourced by Sun at the conference was the JXTA (Juxtapose) Java ME MIDP2.0 Proxyless Implementation. JXTA allows for setting up ad hoc networks of devices such as phones for applications, including discovery of participants in a conference, said Mohamed Abdelaziz, lead architect within the advanced development group of Sun's Java client software group.

O'Sullivan noted the Marge project, a framework to help developers build Bluetooth applications in Java, is intended to facilitate use of JSR 82.

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Paul Krill

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