Mobile Computing: Smaller Is Beautiful
The penetration of electronic systems into everyday life continues apace, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of small mobile devices. These represent what can be called the demand side of the mobile network, i.e., the entities that consume the services offered by the network(s). The supply side of the mobile network provides the required services, and it's important to note that mobile phone networks are evolving to accommodate users' needs. Those include the ability to use small devices (such as mobile phones) for browsing websites, reading and sending email, downloading and playing music, etc. The evolution of mobile computing requires a massive level of investment in both the supply and demand sides of the network.
So, mobile computing and mobile telephony are strong growth areas, and substantial investments are being made on both sides of the supply and demand equation. This area is often somewhat fuzzily described as the "convergence of multiple technologies." Despite the vague marketing-speak, however, it's likely that impressive features will continue to be rolled out over time. In a sense, users and device vendors are trying to overcome the traditional limits imposed by geography by squeezing more and more capabilities into increasingly smaller mobile devices.
In parallel with all this vendor activity, Java is evolving, too, as Sun Microsystems attempts to position the language on the crest of the mobile computing development wave. Keep in mind that software must be specifically engineered for mobile elements such as consumer products, embedded devices, mobile phones, and portable computers. This is because the spectrum of platform types features not one but many runtime environments; therefore, the Java platform has been modified to suit.
History teaches us that technology offerings tend to be most innovative when resources are scarce. For example, do you remember the nineties, when exotic things like DOS extenders and expanded memory were important? These were specific technologies designed to try and squeeze ever more code into and performance out of software hosted on the then-ubiquitous DOS operating system. History is in a sense repeating itself as the mobile computing revolution unfolds. The J2ME platform has been modified to suit the increasingly diverse mobile device area, and that is the topic of this article.