The Java ME Market

java.gifPeople often ask me why there aren’t that many successful Java ME consumer applications that aren’t games. I think this could be for a combination of the following reasons…

  • It’s not possible to do much with the phone specific features without the application being signed. Also, signing doesn’t currently mean it will work on all phones. It depends on what certificates have been put on the phone at time of manufacture and how the Java security domains have been configured. Games don’t usually have to interact with phone features so this is less of an issue.
  • Phone API capability varies widely which has resulted in a fragmented platform. Games only use a very restricted sub-set of the phone API – they tend to just write to the screen (canvas).
  • Network operators tend to only promote games on their portals.

It’s interesting that the few non-game applications that do become successful perform most of their processing at the server. Examples include Opera Mini, EmailViewer by ReqWireless (which was acquired by Google) and Google’s own mobile GMail application. These applications are just a window on more open, capable and consistent processing somewhere else. Hence, if you have an idea for a Java ME application such as this then it probably has a greater chance of being successful.