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Posted by editor on January 25, 2008 at 8:25 AM PST

How does the ME community defeat fragmentation?

800 to 1,000 phones, all of which may run your app differently. And to get on at least half of them, you'll have to jump through manufacturer- or carrier-specific legal, licensing, and marketing hoops.

This was the key topic at the end of the day Thursday, as the Mobile & Embedded Developer Days conference wrapped up with a "fish bowl" session. In this novel format, participants join and leave a set of five chairs with microphones, leaving one chair open at all times and expecting the longest-seated or least active participant to give up his or her seat to a new speaker.

After a few dead ends, the discussion quickly honed in on the challenges facing mobile developers, summed up in a word: "fragmentation". Far from being a unified, predictable, standard platform, Java ME on the mobile device has proven a challenge. It has created some opportunities -- for companies that can test your app on all those devices, for example -- but to the developer looking at developing for the platform, the outlook for developing and deploying a real-world app may well prompt a retreat to the server, the desktop, or the webapp. Or, if the SDK really ships next month, maybe the iPhone, since there's only one model of that darn thing.

So what can be done? Where's the weak link? If there's room for interpretation, does that mean that the standards are broken? Does it serve the purposes of the manufacturers and carriers to have distinctive features (one of which might be low cost, at the expense of functionality and conformance)? Are standards realistic in the mobile space, or is fragmentation inevitable?

And why do the manufacturers and carriers get the final word? What about the developers? Following up on the major themes of the conference, co-organizer Terrence Barr has announced an all-day session to take place today (Friday, Jan. 25, starting at 9AM PST) to "discuss and brainstorm the topic of why developing and deploying content is so hard, what can be done to improve the situation, and about helping developers find their voice."

In another MEDD item highlighted in the Java Today section , Noel Poore's Developing JavaFX Mobile Applications session
offered what may be the most significant update on JavaFX Mobile since its announcement at JavaOne 2007. Slides of Noel's talk are now available in PDF form (743 KB). The session shows the evolution of SavaJe into the JavaFX Mobile foundation, illustrates the core system, frameworks, and user-facing parts of the JavaFX Mobile stack, and lists the many capabilities of its various pieces.

Sun acquires MySQL. NetBeans nabs three product wins from There's been plenty of good news in the neighborhood of recent, and podcasters Roman Strobl and Gregg Sporar take us through the headlines in episode 39 of the NetBeans Podcast. Along the way, they also discuss cool new plugins for NetBeans 6.0, some of the features in NetBeans 6.1, upcoming Webinars, their favorite databases, and much more. They add, "be sure to listen till the end for Episode 39's puzzler--the questions may be getting harder, but the prizes are getting better!"

Returning to the rhetorical questions above about ME fragmentation and what can be done about it, the latest Poll asks "Who could do the most to end Java ME fragmentation?" Cast your vote on the front page, then visit the results page for current tallies and discussion.

In today's Weblogs, Volker


Chris, it might be better to ask "What about the consumers?" How will giving the developers more power help the consumers do interesting things? How will it help the carriers and manufacturers make more money? Answer that and you might pull something off.