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The Mobile Web  Back | TOC


The user base of mobile phones is rising rapidly, thanks to the competitive market and the promising potential of the mobile services. The mobile phone has made it possible for us to stay connected to the computer networks around the world, no matter where we are. The mobile service technology, which includes all hand-held devices like Palm and the cellular phone, has helped unleash the power of the Internet to the mobile devices. It is now possible to communicate via the World Wide Web from your mobile phone. We have today what are called Mobile Web applications that make the Internet communication possible.

The technology for the mobile world comes in several flavors. While all are designed to address the same need, i.e., to enable a roaming client to access the web and the telecommunication lines from a single hand-held device, the approach to make such access possible varies. The variation is considerable, so much so that no single device today supports the different technologies.

The mobile device has certain characteristics and constraints that the mobile technology must cope with, no matter what flavor it is. The device has limited permanent memory, and a small volatile memory called flash memory. It also has a small display screen that limits how much content you can show, and in what order. To work around these limitations is a daunting task both to the technology designers and the content developers.

The technologies that have graduated from the laboratory and show promise of wider user base are listed below.

In this article I will focus on the mobile technology that is powered by MIDP. This technology is driven by the specifications from Sun Microsystems. Here you will find Java in the microland. The following table puts the technology in the right perspective.

Servers & Enterprise Computers Servers & Personal  Computers High-end PDAs, TV set top boxes, Embedded devices Mobile Phones & Entry level PDAs Smart Card
Optional Packages Optional Packages Optional Packages Optional Packages Java Card
Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition
Java 2 Platform Standard Edition
Personal Profile MIDP
Personal Basis Profile
Foundation Profile CLDC

So we see that there are primarily two virtual machines (VMs), one for the computing in the large and another for computing in the small. The KVM supports a device memory stack ranging from 128K to 512K, such as the one we find in a mobile phone.

The MIDP technology comes like all others with a set of optional packages, and combined with CLDC, forms  the Java runtime environment for today's mobile information devices such as phones and entry level PDAs.

If you are a user on the move, and wish to have access to your network at all times, then what you need is a Mobile Web application. Mobile applications can be easily downloaded to your machine.

Among those who need mobile web applications are the technicians who go from door to door fixing up appliances, and have to be on the beck and call of customers all the time.

In the next part we will see how this MIDP technology works, and conclude in the last part with a small experiment that I have actually worked on.