JavaOne Day 1 – Wireless Everywhere

by James Goodwill

My plane touched down at 9:45am. I stepped out of the airport to overcast skies, 50 degrees, and what I would imagine to be 70 percent humidity—I was in San Francisco!

After I checked in to my hotel, I grabbed a quick lunch at Chevy’s (one beef taco and one chicken) and headed across the street to go through registration and get my badge. At JavaOne, we do need our “stinking badges.”

I got to the Moscone Center around noon and went through the relatively painless registration process and began my tour of JavaOne 2003. Today my focus was going to be on the exhibition floor. I wanted to see what the latest cool stuff was and who was creating it.

The first thing that I noticed as I crossed the threshold of the Exhibitors Hall was the reduced number of vendors. I would say the number of exhibitors, as opposed to last year, was reduced by something like 30 percent—the economy has not been good to us.

Once I overcame my initial shock at the conference’s condensed dimensions, I really started looking at what the vendors were showing. As I walked around the floor, I saw several new and old products. I played around with some of the Apple equipment—these guys have done a tremendous job with their OS X gear. I couldn’t help but try and exchange my PC for a Mac box, but alas I could not find a taker.

What I really noticed more than anything was the vast number of mobile device vendors. There was Nokia, Motorola, Nextel, Siemens Mobile, Vodafone, and several others. This conference was starting to look like a mobility conference as opposed to a general Java Symposium. Everyone was showing their MIDP 2.0 devices. It was extremely impressive.

I tried to take an equal look at everyone’s wares, but there just was not enough time, so I focused on the area of mobility that interests me the most, game development—one of the areas that I believe Java can make a tremendous impact. The two most impressive products that I have seen so far are Ajile System’s JEMBlazer and Nokia’s N-Gage.

The JEMBlazer is an extremely interesting product. It allows you to develop your MIDP games and applications and then compile them to a binary image that can be run on a Nintendo Game Boy Advance (GBA). It is extremely cool. They provide a SDK for $199.99 that allows you to both run and debug MIDP games on your existing GBA. This makes Java development for the GBA pretty much a no-brainer. If you are in town, or on the network, you should really check them out They have an interesting business model that will allow the independent game developer to break into the portable device market.

The product that I was most impressed with was Nokia’s N-Gage mobile device. It is a phone, PDA, MP3 player, and gaming device all rolled into one. When you first look at the N-Gage it looks just like your basic game controller that you might find connected to any gaming console, but upon further examination you will see that it is actually a phone shaped like a game controller. It has incredible graphics and its shape makes it extremely easy to manipulate. And to top all of this, you can create your own games using their free MIDP developer’s kit. According to the crew at the Nokia booth, the N-Gage will be available Q4 of this year. I am going to be the first in line.

Well, Day 1 is over—it is 9:00 AM Wednesday Day 2 and it is now time for me to start looking at some of the actual MIDP technical and BOF sessions. After these sessions I hope to provide you with a more technical look at some of the MIDP development being discussed at JavaOne 2003. See you tomorrow.