Is Dalvik the New Java?

java.gifThere’s a thought provoking post on Gorkem Ercan’s blog asking does Java have a place in the future of mobile devices? Gorkem works for Nokia in the Nokia S60 Java platform team working mainly with Java and eclipse based technologies.

Gorkem sees one possible scenario as being…

"Android Java becomes so favored that OSS projects start for porting Android to other operating systems such as Symbian, Windows Mobile etc."

This is interesting because it would provide a common, license free Java implementation for phone OEMs. Common code would enable a more common, more functional implementation across all phones and hence help prevent some types of fragmentation. It would also provide a way out of the restrictive permission based problems associated with Java ME.

Creating and maintaining Java ME has become a relatively large human resource effort for all parties. It’s for this reason I believe Steve Jobs said Java ME wasn’t worth building into the iPhone. The Android Dalvik VM has much less history and baggage. A shared common source would require much less maintenance resource effort.

In the longer term, I can see that cross platform Dalvik VM implementations might be more feasible, usable and desirable than the current drive for more functional widget/javascript based runtimes which I believe is flawed in some ways (see my previous posts below).

Also, I question whether Apple might one day wonder whether Dalvik is worth building in – it would be a shame if they didn’t do so just because they don’t own the solution.

As with Apple, I suspect whether Dalvik becomes the new Java may depend on ‘political’ rather than technical considerations.