Sun will soon reveal a list of 200-300 companies licensing its Java-based wireless network protocol, Jini, which is widely tipped to become the industry standard for linking peripherals across the network.
Compaq, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell, Toshiba and Siemens will be among the first to license the technology.
Although HP has refused to comment on its plans for Jini in the light of its JetSend proprietary network technology, analysts believe HP will embrace the protocol alongside the JetSend environment and let the market decide which technology wins out.
Ashim Pal, senior analyst with the Meta Group, said that JetSend was a mature technology but had not gained much market momentum. "What HP does not have is much industry awareness to be a credible player in this space, whereas Sun has not got the technology, but everybody knows about Jini," he said.
Pal said HP would probably hedge its bets supporting both the JetSend and Jini technology, but thinks JetSend will be dropped later. In turn, Sun would gain from HP's experience in printer technology and this would benefit Jini's standing. As direct competitors, the companies had not worked together until HP licensed HotSpot, Sun's Java performance technology last month.
"HP has licensed HotSpot for deploying Java on devices but it also means they can run Jini services on top," said Andy Bush, group manager for Jini at Sun. "Like Java and Active X, there will be convergence between Jini and JetSend and in the short term this means a gateway between the two."
Sun posted specifications for Jini, which is essentially Java software for linking printers, hard drives and other peripherals over a network, on its Web site in July (see PC Week, 21 July).
Craig Roth, senior Java analyst for the Meta Group, said that Jini is still a "paper standard" - a concept without a product. "It would be nice if every device could talk to each other but, obviously, that may be some way off," he said.
There are several more wireless protocols besides Jini and JetSend that are competing for the number one spot. These include Bluetooth, and NEST (Novell Embedded Systems Technology). Microsoft is also working on its own distributed computing project, code-named Millennium and MCoM.
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