Sun Microsystems is planning to release a very cheap Java-powered cell phone that would be available for $29 to $49.
That's a notch cheaper than the $100 price the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative hopes to reach in 2008. OLPC began at the MIT Media Lab but now is a separate initiative to build easy-to-use, Linux-powered wirelessly networked devices.
Sun Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz Sun isn't building its own phone, Schwartz said. Instead, the company expects partnerships with manufacturers that will have the direct relationships with customers. "We're not there to disintermediate them from their audience," Schwartz said.
Key to the vision is Java FX Mobile, based largely on technology Sun acquired when it purchased a small company called SavaJe in April. Sun has worked for years to develop Java as a technology that it licenses to others, but the Java FX Mobile software is a product that the company will sell.
Java FX Mobile is geared for small devices, but its Java interface is most similar to the Java Standard Edition (SE) software that runs on standard PCs, said James Gosling, often called the father of Java. However, the software also can run the host of Java applications that have been written for the prevailing incarnation of Java for mobile phones, called Mobile Internet Device Platform (MIDP). MIDP is based on the more compact Java Micro Edition (ME).