Sun, Laszlo Enter Mobile Platform Partnership

Java backer Sun Microsystems and open source application development player Laszlo Systems have announced a partnership to support OpenLaszlo applications on Java Micro Edition (ME) devices.

The companies said the deal will boost the portability and flexibility of both products, and would form the basis of a new OpenLaszlo community project dubbed Orbit, to be unveiled later this year.

Mobile Evolution

The deal adds to the momentum for both OpenLaszlo and Java ME, code and tools for which are among the first Java open source offerings to come from Sun this year. The arrangement also demonstrates the impact of open source development on mobile platforms, Interarbor Solutions Principal Analyst Dana Gardner told LinuxInsider.

“It’s incumbent on platform providers that the tool is well integrated to the platform,” he said. “Sometimes, people get it backward, but because of open source and other trends in the marketplace, developers can choose a tool for easy deployment of a platform or service.”

The collaboration will broaden the prospects for OpenLaszlo, currently in version 3.3, on Java ME phones, TV boxes and other devices, according to the companies.

The pairing also extends one of Java’s key strengths in its support for different development environments and authoring tools for different developer preferences and skills.

Natural Fit

The Sun-Laszlo endeavor makes sense and reinforces a trend that has made development for the mobile and embedded space more flexible for developers, Gardner said.

Sun, which would probably like to see more development for Java ME, could have built its own, similar application toolset or acquired it, but the partnership with Laszlo is “very viable,” according to Gardner.

While Linux and other open source software have seen fairly swift uptake in mobile embedded devices, that has somewhat plateaued, and there is now a need for more interoperability and standards focus across both software tools and platforms, he added.

Wider Community

Mobile applications such as user interfaces have historically been built by major handset manufacturers and their partners, but the need for more powerful applications and features has opened development up to a much wider community, noted DataComm President Ira Brodsky.

“The significance of the open source approach is, nobody has really yet figured out what is the ideal user interface in the mobile environment,” he told LinuxInsider.

In order to make more advanced operating systems, such as Symbian, Palm, Linux or Windows, work in mobile devices, companies are casting a wider net for developers.

“With one billion units per year (of new mobile phones), with a market that big, you’ve got to be able to develop new models very quickly,” Brodsky said. “What’s good is to have an army of third-party developers that can help you do that.”

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