Sun's plan for Java on iPhone could hit roadblock

iPhone SDK agreement conditions could prevent use of a Java Virtual Machine on the handheld

Acknowledging that conditions of Apple's iPhone SDK agreement may impede Sun's plan to put a JVM (Java Virtual Machine) on the iPhone, a Sun official held out an olive branch this week to Apple.

The JVM would enable Java applications to run on the iPhone. But blog and forum posts that have been written that questioned whether Sun could follow through on the plan, Sun said. Sun's Eric Klein, vice president of Java marketing, said in a statement released this week that Sun wants to talk to Apple if there are conditions blocking Sun's intentions.

"Our announcement was based on our excitement to build a JVM for the iPhone and the iTouch (iPod touch) as well as our assessment of Apple's publicly available information on the SDK and related business terms," Klein said. "If there are clauses in the iPhone beta SDK license agreement that potentially limit third-party application distribution, then these are items that we want to have a positive discussion with Apple about.

"Sun and Apple have an ongoing relationship around Java SE (Standard Edition) on Mac OS X, and we look forward to further discussions with Apple about a JVM for iPhone and iTouch. Sun definitely plans to deliver a JVM for iPhone and iTouch if at all possible," Klein said.

Apple's iPhone SDK agreement seemingly would not allow something like a JVM on the phone, said consultant Christopher Allen, founder of iPhoneWebDev, an online resource for iPhone application developers.

"If you go by the agreement that you agree to in order to get the SDK and to be able to put [an application] on the iPhone, you're not allowed to have downloadable executables," Allen said. "Basically, they don't want people to go around their process of vetting code in applications by allowing something else to load code in."

As of Friday afternoon, no discussions on the matter had yet taken place between Apple and Sun, a Sun representative acknowledged. Apple did not respond to several inquiries about the issue.

Sun announced its intentions a week ago. Previously, Apple has not been receptive to having Java on the popular device.

Under Sun's porting plan, developers could use their existing Java tools to build applications to run on the iPhone and iTouch.

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Paul Krill

InfoWorld
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