Sun warms up Java on Snapdragon

US software firm Sun Microsystems has been making its presence felt in the mobile space of late, most recently announcing the porting of its Java platform to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon ARM-based processor.

Sun said that it has been working with Qualcomm for nearly a year to port a complete, optimised, and standard version of the Java SE platform onto Snapdragon, allowing rich internet and media with full web browsing capabilities and longer battery life for Qualcomm’s newly announced ‘smartbook’ form factor.

As the explosive growth in mobile broadband has been partially stimulated by the burgeoning netbook or ultra mobile PC market, vendors are keen to find the next niche and lucrative mobile gadget. And US vendor Qualcomm believes it has hit upon the next big thing by creating a whole new category of device that falls between the high end smartphone and the netbook.

The “smartbook” as senior vice president of marketing and product development at Qualcomm, Luis Pineda, dubbed the device type, promises “the smartphone experience in a larger form factor.” is struggling to understand this one, it all sounds a bit too much like Palm’s ill-fated Foleo strategy. There is a wide range of netbooks available for under the £300 mark, many of which boast a full fledged operating system like Linux or Windows XP, integrated wifi and 3G, and a highly portable form factor. As a result, the opportunities for a ‘smartbook’ look doubtful.

Nevertheless, Pineda said that around 15 companies are on board with the concept and there are around 30 such devices in development. The first of these will hit the shelves towards the end of 2009.

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