Sun's Java Web Services technology is to be installed on RIM's BlackBerry devices, giving the approximately one million BlackBerry users access to new business applications.
The majority of RIM's devices are already Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME)-enabled, including the BlackBerries 7750, 7510, 7210, 7230, 7280, 6510 and 5810.
"[We've brought] enterprise Java-based applications to the BlackBerry device, powered by the BlackBerry and its J2ME engine on the device side," explained CTO of Sun's mobility group, David Rivas. On the back-end, users would need a Java-based Web services platform such as Sun's Java Enterprise System.
For the past three to four years, Sun has been working on multiplying the number of Java applications for mobile devices and so far made the biggest in-roads on the consumer side with games, Rivas said. Now the company is setting its sights on the enterprise with the RIM partnership because BlackBerry is one of the more widely-deployed enterprise devices.
"Sun has been very successful with J2ME and most cell phones use it. There is a burgeoning framework around using micro-Java for design, development and distribution of content through mobile devices," said Dan Gardner, senior analyst at the Yankee Group. "This gives RIM the opportunity to deliver content and, potentially, applications."
Ken Dulaney, a VP at Gartner, said Sun has been far behind other companies in recognising mobility aspects of the enterprise. He likened Sun and RIM's partnership to the deal between RIM and IBM in September 2003, when IBM announced integration with its WebSphere Everyplace Access (WEA) mobile middleware and BlackBerry's enterprise server.
"This is just another infrastructure component like WebSphere," Dulaney said. "Sun's clients can link in their systems to BlackBerry devices using RIM's browser." He noted however that the deal was necessary to keep up with the market.
"BlackBerry is a popular device and all of the mobile market needs to continue to innovate," Gardner explained. "Simply being able to do text through BlackBerry was popular in some countries like the U.S but RIM is going to be under pressure to provide more and better services - many of which will be content- and data-oriented - so for it to adopt Java makes sense."