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Do operators really want java and the associated data traffic?

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abickerton
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Joined: 2005-08-05

During a recent excursion into the business side of applcation development. I find myself asking this question because of the following.

Operators take 40-60% of the revenue from an application sold via their portals. These portals are often inside walled garden networks.

The content is unlikely to sell as many units because the application is overpriced. This is bound to happen when an application developer has to double the retail price for an application just to cover costs.

In turn content providers will not be so inclined to produce innovative content. Thus users will be turned off to downloaded applications/Games.

While not entirely the operators fault. Totally hopeless devices are released to the market. By this I mean devices that require intimate knowledge of device configuration, or hide the applications under masses of menus causing the user in general to just give up.

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terrencebarr
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Joined: 2004-03-04

Oh, I couldn't agree more. But I have reason to believe we are at a confluence point of several technologies and facts that have already begun to drive change. See open source Java ME together with http://www.openmoko.com. The genie is out of the bottle.

Interesting times.

-- Terrence

terrencebarr
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Joined: 2004-03-04

Hi,

The underlying facts of this discussion are very interesting. The "walled garden" approach of the carriers and operators in the past may have been the right approach at the time but it is coming under pressure just like the AOL (America Online) model did a couple of years ago.

Increasingly, mobile devices are becoming more general compute units with multi-standard connectivity while at the same time many consumers are becoming more sophisticated and savy. Like in other industries I think there will be an increased push towards higher-value services based on increasingly commoditized underlying technology (think Google maps and VoIP over wireless IP).

This has nothing to do with Java in particular but with the change of business models inflicted by evolving technology.

-- Terrence

joshy
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Joined: 2003-07-02

> This has nothing to do with Java in particular but
> with the change of business models inflicted by
> evolving technology.

True, but it does affect the viability of Java on mobile devices, which I think is why it's so interesting to all of us here. At JavaOne 1999 I bought a Palm V with Java installed. This promised to herald in a new era of cool mobile apps written in Java, and yet that hasn't happened, at least not for the bulk of us Java developers. It's hard to distribute even a share or freeware application for phones. I think the carriers are largely responsible for this.

*sorry*. It makes me angry to talk about this, having seen the carriers shoot both themselves and me and their customers in the foot over and over. I hate to think what the broadband companies would do if they weren't even minorly regulated the way they are now. Imaging if your home ISP was like your cellphone company. Scary stuff.

stuart_marks
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Joined: 2006-08-24

> > This has nothing to do with Java in particular but
> > with the change of business models inflicted by
> > evolving technology.
>
>
> True, but it does affect the viability of Java on
> mobile devices, which I think is why it's so
> interesting to all of us here. At JavaOne 1999 I
> bought a Palm V with Java installed. This promised to
> herald in a new era of cool mobile apps written in
> Java, and yet that hasn't happened, at least not for
> the bulk of us Java developers. It's hard to
> distribute even a share or freeware application for
> phones. I think the carriers are largely responsible
> for this.

Yes, I can see this is very frustrating. The past several years have been characterized by closed devices running on closed networks. In this environment it's not surprising that shareware and freeware haven't become popular. I don't want to blame anybody in particular, but there are a lot of parties (not only carriers) who have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. This is not at all unusual. It happens all the time, in any market.

In this space, though, as Terrence observed, there is enormous pressure coming from all directions. It seems quite likely that open handheld platforms running Linux (and Java!) will become available soon. Also, new technologies such as WiMax and VOIP over WiFi (for devices that can roam between WiFi and, say, GSM) provide pressure on the networking side.

So, although the past few years may have been frustrating, there are big changes afoot. They're part of the reason we've open sourced Java.

> *sorry*. It makes me angry to talk about this, having
> seen the carriers shoot both themselves and me and
> their customers in the foot over and over. I hate to
> think what the broadband companies would do if they
> weren't even minorly regulated the way they are now.
> Imaging if your home ISP was like your cellphone
> e company. Scary stuff.

Well, my ISP provides DSL service over phone lines provided by the local phone monopoly. The local phone company just won a ruling allowing them to impose a surcharge on competing ISPs for use of their phone lines, so my DSL bill just went up a couple bucks. Not a big deal right now, but it could trend toward local ISP monopolies.

Also, consider the control your cable TV company has over what goes on in the computers attached to your TV.

Yeah, pretty scary.

By the way, I'm in California, which is regulated by the California PUC and the federal FCC. If you live elsewhere the regulatory environment -- and thus, the dynamics (one might say, distortions) in the marketplace -- are certainly different.

s'marks
Stuart Marks
phoneME Feature Project Owner

denka
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Joined: 2003-07-06

No they don't. Ringtones, SMS spam, and wallpapers, my friend :)

joshy
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Joined: 2003-07-02

I think the point is that the carriers have a long history of thwarting attempts for anyone but them to make money off of wireless applications. This has had the effect of drastically hindering the growth of wireless applications. Imagine if the web had been built off of a proprietary markup language where you had to ask permission from UUNet to install or update any page? Would we have the web that we have today? I rather doubt it. Five years ago I was in a wireless startup that worked on WML and J2ME solutions. We never got traction because of problems dealing with the carriers. From what I've seen not much has changed.

jwenting
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Joined: 2003-12-02

That was the problems with things like T-Zones and iMode. Each carrier controlled its own environment (in fact not dissimilar to AOL and Compuserve controlling their customers' environments for years).
With GPRS access becoming more common that's changing, as customers are no longer dependent on their network provider for determining what they can see.
I can take my smartphone and browse to java.net for example, that would not have been possible not long ago.

jwenting
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Joined: 2003-12-02

and your point?

I assume your assumption is that everything written in Java is crap, else I can't see how you arrive at your conclusion that people don't want Java applications.

More correctly based on what you write one would have to conclude that the sites selling the applications are crap, making the applications seem overpriced even when they're not as well as making them hard to find and purchase.

abickerton
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Joined: 2005-08-05

> and your point?
I'm mainly venting spleen at this point.

> I assume your assumption is that everything written
> in Java is crap,
Not at all, there is a lot of good content out there. It's getting into the market place for a fair price, one that reflects the worth of an application. Not having to be inflated to cover the take from the operators.
This artificial inflation, makes the product a lot less attractive to the guy paying the bill.

>else I can't see how you arrive at
> your conclusion that people don't want Java
> applications.
>
Did you try to find where the applications are installed on a low end device. Applications are often hidden under menus. LG's Chocolate for example takes 7 Clicks to start the pre-installed game.

Not forgetting, the bizarreness of having to set up the gprs connection multiple times (I've seen devices require a configuration for each application). This in a world where 80% of users can't name their phone.