Monday, May 21, 2007

Java ME: Pain Points

Frank Sommers asks, "What are your Java ME Pain Points?". Mine are:

Carrier Stranglehold
Carriers want to own the phones. This seems to be consistent from Canada to the USA, and quite possibly elsewhere. Carriers don't want you messing with your phone, loading things on to it. Actually, they do, they just want to charge you for it in as many different ways as is corporately possible.

This means, among other things, that they usually don't go out of their way to make it easy for you to load software onto your phone for the purposes of development. It also means that if you do manage to get an application on your phone, it's not easy to share that application with others.

This is, to my eye, the biggest barrier to adoption.

Canadian Data Rates
Data rate plans in Canada are brutal. There's no serious 'unlimited' plan at this point, and the non-unlimited ones are highway robbery. Between this and the previous point, Canadian carriers are themselves destroying adoption of the very tools they sell. If carriers would just let users use the phones the way that PC manufacturers let them use their PCs, wireless applications would be a much larger, more vibrant world. Let this be a lesson to OS vendors who have been implementing DRM. Sooner or later we're going to dump your over-protective operating systems and move on to other pastures.

High Barrier to Entry
Many Palms don't have Java VMs for free. iPhone may not support Java. Different phones have different support for Java, require different tools and procedures. I've looked into Java ME development several times, only to get thrown back by the high barrier to entry. I don't want to buy a JVM for my Palm, and it's not that easy to learn which tools I need to build a Java ME application for my Nokia, build it, and install it. This needs to get easier, be more seamless.

There are others, but these three are the biggest categories of pain. Fix these, and you'll see more consumers and developers interested in what Java ME can offer them.

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