What is Java Me and do I need it?

James Corbett asked on this post

Any advice on mobile java (Java ME, formerly J2ME from what I understand)? I’m thinking of developing a mobile app, or rather getting someone to develop it, and it strikes me that Java ME is the most widely supported platform on consumer mobile

J2me picture

Java ME is the version of Java that run’s on small devices (like Mobile phones). Speaking as a Java consultant , here’s my thoughts on it:

  • Java Me is a cut down version of Java , so any Java Developer should be able to help you out. There are also a range of Emulators (things that run on your PC pretending to be a phone), so you don’t have to have 20 mobiles sitting on your desk for testing.
  • I think there will be a big demand for the sort of Games / Gadgets / Gizmos that people can show off on their mobile phones (look at the money paid out for simple things like Ringtones). The trouble is the route to market – how do you get your gizmo onto somebody’s phone and get them to pay you for it. It’s a lot easier if you have a friendly Telco like Vodafone or O2 on board.
  • Strictly speaking , Java ME is not the most widely supported mobile platform – that honour goes to XHMTL , a stricter version of normal web pages. This is the approach that Google takes with it’s mobile Gmail product. This also has the benefit of running on phones like O2’s imode.
  • There is the small problem of not every version of Java that runs’s on a mobile phone is the same – there is multiple versions, differences between the handset companies and even a couple of different subsets of Java.
  • Personally I’ve stayed away from it, given that mobiles will be powerful enough within 18-36 months to run the full version of Java. Any major investment of my time learning J2ME would be thrown away at that stage.

So , in one line: If you really need the extra power of Java on the mobile, it should be doable. But think long and hard about delivering it as a Web Application (using XHTML) instead. All depends on what you are trying to do.

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