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Java on the Handset—J2ME

The Plot was also available for a large population of Java-capable handset owners. The Java game was a stripped-down version of the N-Gage game: The missions were similar but smaller and simpler and did not use 3D graphics. Still, a number of missions were available for download and offered challenges that varied from tough puzzles to easy action sequences.

The emergence of Java, an application programming language and runtime environment developed by Sun Microsystems, revolutionized software development starting from the mid-1990s. The core idea behind the design of Java language was the capability to make the runtime environment available on as many different computing environments as possible and thus maximize the number of places where Java programs could be used. Now a special version of Java is aiming at the same goal in the mobile world and is widely supported by handset manufacturers around the world.

Java 2 Platform Micro Edition, J2ME, is a version of Java 2 technology that is optimized for use with small devices such as PDAs and cell phones.41 It has millions of potential developers because the larger-scale versions of the language and runtime environments are extensively used in both server and application programming.

The J2ME applications, properly called MIDlets, do not run natively in mobile devices. This means that the device must be provided with a special code interpreter, Java Virtual Machine, for executing MIDlets. Consequently, software written with Java needs more resources than the native applications that do not need an interpreter to run.

Because of the memory limitations of low-end cell phones, the permitted application size is relatively small. In some cases, the maximum application size is only a few dozen kilobytes. Newer handsets allow larger Java applications.

There are two ways to deliver mobile Java applications. The most common way is to download over the air (OTA) directly to the cell phone. Another option is to first download the MIDlet to a desktop PC and then install it to a phone via a serial cable, infrared, or Bluetooth connection.

Carriers encourage Java OTA downloads because they are able to generate revenue from the increased airtime. Additionally, they charge the third-party content providers for the billing of the transaction. In many cases, carriers sign revenue-sharing deals with game publishers and developers to generate more data traffic and to promote OTA download as a delivery channel.

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