Java News Aggregators Big in Japan

Sorry... I just love the phrase "big in Japan" since it seems that every new technology that I'm interested is always just that, already incredibly popular in Japan. I'm just hearing about it for the first time, but supposedly there's 5 million Japanese schoolgirls who use the technology three times before school.

Anyways, I almost don't know what to think about this article in the Online Journalism Review that I just ran across via Meerkat Wireless.

Cell Phones that Surf for News

On a cell phone someday soon, you'll be able to instruct a personal news-gatherer to scour a dozen media sites for headlines within minutes after they are posted.

Are you a football, baseball or soccer fan? A new technology will dish up a playback of your favorite team's winning goal.

The technology turns cell phones into computers that can download and execute programs just like PCs.

The new cell phone programming, which has taken off in Japan, could make mobile phones a mainstay for news delivery. Though the technology is available in the United States, wireless carriers have not employed it there to the degree that they have in Japan, which has 59.5 million mobile Internet users. With its wireless-crazy populace, Japan's experience could provide Americans a glimpse of the future for news delivery via cell phones.

The new technology embeds Java, a programming language that can run across the Internet, into cell phone software. The result is a tiny program called an appli. Wireless content providers in Japan first provided applis for cell phones in January 2001.

Granted, handsets already allowed users to view mini-Web sites, swap text mail, and pull down ring tones and images via the onboard micro-browser. But Java enables subscribers to get real-time updates, interactive features and streaming video. Mobile phone makers, software developers and Japanese news executives say the innovation has the potential to remake the mobile Internet.

"A lot of printing will be replaced by the wireless Internet," says Tetsuzo Matsumoto, president of the Japanese division of mobile technology provider Qualcomm.

Today, you can install a Java appli that will execute a game, display animation, trade stocks, send a voice mail, stream audio or video content, or process information such as a two-dimensional bar code scanned from a retail catalog by the phone's integrated camera.

According to independent ranking site Giga Appli, one of the most popular applis as of Jan. 7 was "Spanish Word," which provides a customizable Japanese-Spanish dictionary -- handy for that big trip to Mexico or Costa Brava.

Moreover, since May 2002, users of the newest Java handsets have been able to select one downloaded appli to run in the background, even when the handset is not in use. These "desktop appli" can continuously fetch mail, weather, location information, stock quotes or any other real-time data, which is then immediately available when the user flips open the handset.

While specialized news organizations like Reuters can afford to develop and test their own customized Java applications, others may not be so flush. That's where Tokyo start-up hopes to profit by selling a ready-to-go real-time content distribution system to non-specialized retailers, financial institutions, and, indeed, media content owners.

Nooper's new software would allow content owners, such as Yahoo! or MSN, to push information such as a weather report, mail, a party invitation, a short story, a Web site update, sports results, or stock quotes to a cell phone.


The article continues. It's actually a very long article, and at the very bottom has a random quote from Dan Gilmore. Completley bewildering. It's like reading about an alternate reality. A reality where people already use their mobile phones for all sorts of things already and where "printing will be replaced by the wireless internet" very soon... Yowza.

While I was following links from that article, I ran across Wireless Watch Japan which is part of the Wireless Dev Net which has streaming video articles and looks pretty interesting. I'm watching the 50th Episode Review right now. It's REALLY cool with lots of shots of phones and other high tech from Japan.

I wish I had a clip of Tom's song... "I'm big in Japan... I'm big in Japan..."


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