MIDP 2.0: Don't Believe The Hype

The only session at the Symbian expo that really, truly annoyed me was the one by a Sun rep who was supposed to be talking about "real world programming for the P800" but instead talked only about the benefits of MIDP 2.0.

MIDP 2.0 isn't here. It isn't GOING to be here for another year. Why Sun is pushing this technology is another mystery. What I think is that v2 addresses many of the problems with MIDP 1.0 and thus Sun wants to skirt around the fact that the original spec is so woefully underpowered for most of the things that Sun is hyping it for (games). Here's an article about what's new in MIDP 2.0... Lots of additions including scheduling, secure networking, Game API, code signing and more.

Some of the newer specs are filtering out to the public now, for example the 3650 supports both the Media API and the Messaging API, both of which will be part of the MIDP 2.0. However, for the most part, we're not going to see MIDP 2.0 phones for a long time. The spec was only finalized in December and though Sun has announced that they expect the first phones with MIDP 2.0 to ship this summer, I haven't heard of any. But even if there ARE a few phones that pop up with the new spec, the vast, vast majority of the phones will be running MIDP 1.0 for the next year. It'll be well into 2004 before you start thinking about swapping in your old MIDP 1.0 phone for a newer model, believe me.

Thus, this year's JavaOne is a big freakin' waste. Sun will be sticking to the party line and only talking about MIDP 2.0. I've already seen it in action at the Symbian conference, Sun is like that. They move on to the next version and the older technologies are left behind without support or consideration. Check out this article recently sent out by Sun, "My top 10 J2ME destinations at JavaOne". It's all filled with MIDP 2.0 tech and other new APIs. The major problem with this is that Java phones are JUST starting to hit the mainstream and they're all MIDP 1.0 phones! A zillion developers are going to go to these sessions and learn all about these snazzy new features that no one is going to be able to use for another year out.

If this was J2EE, maybe this wouldn't be a problem. Major enterprise apps may take that long or longer to go live, so talking about next year's technology today is the right thing to do in that instance. However, J2ME is vastly simpler. I just read recently that it takes a major game publisher about a month to produce a new Java game (wish I could find the link). A MONTH. That means that the focus of this year's JavaOne should be ALL about getting the most from MIDP 1.0. This will then spread the knowledge and push better and more compelling games out to the market quicker, which will spur more adoption.

Maybe I'm wrong (and very well could be), but it seems to me that Sun just doesn't seem to be paying attention. If you're going to JavaOne, give 'em hell. Wake them up.


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