Sun Microsystems has set up a $100m venture fund aimed at emerging wireless applications as part of its aggressive push into the mobile communications space.
The money will be spent over the next year on services such as location applications, streaming video to handheld devices, and security.
The fund is part of Sun's revamped strategy in the wireless market where it is pushing Java. Analysts at researcher Gartner believe Java will displace Wap as more advanced phones enter the market, because it is better at handling more graphics-intensive applications such as gaming and map services.
Although Sun executives were reluctant to say that Java would replace Wap, they said Wap is in a transitional phase and that there will be a cross over between Wap and Java as the market moves from second-generation to third-generation mobile networks.
Ann Wettersten, Sun's vice-president of wireless, said: "As wireless and the internet converge, you will see the adoption of IP, XML and Java in the industry."
Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) is Sun's underlying Java environment for mobile application, and the company also announced that the Third Generation Partnership Project will use it to develop wireless interactive services.
J2ME allows consumers to download web-based Java services, or applets, on their mobile devices and run them offline. This differs from Wap which requires users to be online to receive services, said Sun officials. Nokia and Siemens are expected to ship Java-enabled devices next year.
Sun announced that it is setting up two Wireless Excellence Centres in California and Stockholm where customers and partners can test applications.
The company also launched a software communications platform marketed by iPlanet, Sun's joint venture with Netscape. The iPlanet Intelligent Communications Platform features four components: messaging, calendar, directory and wireless.
The platform delivers email, calendar and address book information via wireless protocols such as HTML and WML. It also includes a unified messaging function that allows users to integrate their email, fax and voicemail through a single interface.
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