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Sun Blew its "iPhone" Java Opportunity to AJAX

Being a Java and Mac guy I looked for Java on iPhone and Java is no where to be found

Frank Cohen's Blog

Today is US Independence day and I stopped at the Apple store to see the iPhone, and ask questions about the new MacBook Pro. I wanted to see the iPhone in person to learn what I should expect from mobile phone people interaction and feature sets. And I wanted to learn which MacBook Pro model I'll be upgrading to in the next few weeks.

iPhone is beautiful. It is smaller than I expected. Just a little larger than my current Samsung D807. iPhone has a nice feel and the touch keyboard worked very well for my big fingers. iPhone was suprisingly hot - temperature wise - but what mobile Apple device isn't! (The CPU in my PowerBook constantly wants to burn its way through my lap on its return to the molten core of Earth.)

Being a Java and Mac guy I looked for Java on iPhone. Java is no where to be found.

For years I've listened to Jonathan Schwartz, CEO at Sun Microsystems, talk about monetizing its Java investment because of the wide-spread availability of the Java runtime - today on 700 Million mobile phones.

Rumors have it that Apple sold 500,000 iPhones in the past week. While a $500 mobile phone won't be able to keep up that sales rate, I just don't see Blackberry and Windows Mobile-based products in their current state being able to make a long-term run against iPhone. iPhone will be a significant part of the high-end mobile phone marketplace.

So where does that leave Java and Sun? Unfortunately, nowhere. There is no Java on iPhone. iPhone is a gated community and Java is on the outside.

Add to this my experience of developing Java applications - like TestMaker - on Mac OS X and I have to wonder where is Java 6? Unfortunately, an unstable developer-only dont-run-this-in-production release of Java is available. The real Java 6 is months away from release and depends on upgrading the entire operating system. Mac OS X is now the getto for Java 6.

Sun might blame both of these problems on Apple, but I see these as evidence that Sun is blowing its Java opportunity. There is no Java on iPhone, and only a very old alpha-quality release of JDK 6 for my Mac laptop.

I love Apple and Java. I wish Sun would do more to get Java on iPhone and Java 6 on Mac OS X.

More Stories By Frank Cohen

Frank Cohen is the CEO and Founder at Votsh Inc. and the CTO at Appvance (formerly PushToTest). He is one of the world's foremost experts in software test tools, process, and methodology. He founded Regent Software, joined Peter Norton Computing, managed the successful merger with Symantec, joined Stac Electronics launched SoftWindows at Insignia, and led Apple Computer‘s middleware, networking and connectivity product lines as senior manager. He was also on the founding team of, which was acquired by Symantec and CoFounder of Inclusion Technologies – interactive personalized communication and workflow function technology for Web sites.

Cohen authored four books including FastSOA (Morgan Kaufmann), Java Testing and Design: From Unit Testing To Automated Web Tests (Prentice Hall,) Java Web Services Unleashed (SAMS), and Java P2P Unleashed (SAMS) - See more at: is the leading authority for testing and optimizing software developed with service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web service designs. He is CEO and Founder of PushToTest and inventor of TestMaker, the open source SOA test automation tool, that helps software developers, QA technicians, and IT managers understand and optimize the scalability, performance, and reliability of their systems.

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Most Recent Comments
OS X Developer 10/06/07 11:46:35 PM EDT

From Apple's point of view, the real problem with Java is its open-ness. Apple is totally into closed systems, proprietary everything. Haven't you noticed how awful Apple's developer support has become? They're closing down OS X. It's hard to write a competitive app there: did you now that OS X has piles of secret APIs that are only available to Apple's applications? Everything Apple says about Java is FUD: they (Steve) hate it's open-ness and cross platform nature. The wonderful thing about AJAX (from their point of view) is that on the one hand it gives them a story that is plausible to the press (reporters are not engineers!), but at the same time, it's totally useless for building compelling applications - expecially on the wretchedly slow EDGE network.

Randy Robertson 10/06/07 12:48:22 AM EDT

Your blind devotion to Apple makes your criticism of Sun for not being on the Iphone laughable. Apple is to blame for not letting ANY external code to run on the device. Same with OSX requiring an upgrade ($100) just to run the latest Java- and months later than everyone else at that.

The enemy here is Apple, not SUN.

Apple has always had draconian restrictions like this. Want to put OSX on a box you build yourself? Cant. Want to run OSX in a VM? Cant. Want to run any software at all on your Iphone? Cant.

Apple users like to think that by using apple they are standing up the "The Man" (Microsoft, et al). In reality they are just bending over for a different man. I use Linux because I value freedom, but anyone can tell that even Microsoft is a much more free platform than Apple.

Terry 08/12/07 10:07:17 PM EDT

So what? What exactly should Sun do?? Send some flunkies over to Steve Job's house and break his knee caps?? Just because *you* wanted something to happen doesn't mean it is what was best for the iPhone or for Apple.

James White 08/01/07 06:57:03 PM EDT

Good article. It made me think about a comment Steve Jobs said that was plastered all over this site a while back about why would anyone want to use Java for application development anymore (not a direct quote, but you get my gist)? IMHO, Java needs to do something to become competitive with more simplified development languages. I like Java, but I hate the hoops you have to jump through to make it work on the web. I am a long time ColdFusion guy, but I do work with JEE regularly and believe me when I say CF gives me enough power (though not as much as Java) with fewer things I have to worry about. Don't get me wrong Java is still good and still has a place in the development world, but for web development, I can think of a several scripting languages (CF, PHP, Ruby, AJAX, .NET), I would rather use for the web, before I even think about JEE (JSP, Servlets and definitely EJB).

Jack 07/24/07 08:11:19 AM EDT

So - what is the mobile development language of choice for the iPhone?

The 500,000 sounds wrong. Can you back this up?

Jan de Rijke 07/21/07 01:17:10 PM EDT

You could have java if apple just enabled it:


iPhone News 07/12/07 08:30:39 PM EDT

Being a Java and Mac guy I looked for Java on iPhone. Java is no where to be found. For years I've listened to Jonathan Schwartz, CEO at Sun Microsystems, talk about monetizing its Java investment because of the wide-spread availability of the Java runtime - today on 700 Million mobile phones. Rumors have it that Apple sold 500,000 iPhones in the past week.

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