Oracle has announced a partnership with Symbian to port the Oracle 8 Lite database to the group's mobile device operating system, Epoc.
Symbian is a joint venture between Psion Software, Nokia, Ericsson and, most recently, Motorola, to establish Psion's Epoc - the operating system used in Psion's Series 5 PDA - as a standard for use in smart mobile phones and next generation PDAs.
Jacob Christfort, director of mobile products at Oracle, said: "Symbian is the next generation OS for these devices. A key missing piece is corporate data access, and we want to make sure people have as many options as possible."
He added that Oracle 8 Lite for Epoc will be an option available both to OEM customers for inclusion in their handheld devices and as a retail add-on, adding that there will be "important channel activity" coming out of the partnership but he refused to outline what this would involve.
The Oracle database will also be an option for existing Psion Series 5 and Geofox PDAs based on Epoc.
The next version of the software, Oracle 8i Lite, will be based on Oracle's latest release of its database, expected to ship by Christmas. Christfort explained: "It will be server-side installable. When a user makes an Internet connection, accesses an (Oracle 8i-based) application via a URL and then goes offline, the Java applets (in the application) will suck down onto the device. This will be the first mainstream use of Java on a PDA."
Jeremy Burton, director of product marketing for Symbian, welcomed the move. "This gives extra credibility to Symbian in the corporate space," he said. "PDAs suffer from a credibility gap with IS managers. They don't look at them in the same way as they look at PCs." He explained that, at the moment, PDAs are seen more as gadgets than as serious business devices and users who bring them to the office are disappointed that IS departments do not currently support or develop applications for them.
He added that the deal was not exclusive and that Oracle 8 Lite would not replace the built-in data application shipped with the Series 5 but was an "application-enabler".
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