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.
Analyst Gartner believes Java will displace Wap as more advanced phones enter the market because it is better at handling more graphic-intensive applications such as gaming and map services.
Although Sun executives were reluctant to confirm this, they said that Wap is in a transitional phase, and that there will be a crossover between the technologies as the wireless market moves from second-generation to third-generation mobile networks.
Ann Wettersten, vice president of wireless applications at Sun, said: "As wireless and internet technologies 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 applications; the company's Third Generation Partnership Project will use it to develop wireless interactive services.
J2ME allows users 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.
Mobile telephony giants 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. The iPlanet initiative also includes a unified messaging function that allows users to integrate their email, fax and voicemail through a single interface.
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