NEW YORK-Texas Instruments Inc, and Sun Microsystems Inc. want to keep things comparatively simple within the handset as demands on its capabilities grow more complex.
With that goal in mind, the two companies announced an agreement last week that will permit delivery of Sun’s Java capabilities on any of Texas Instruments’ processor platforms-including the TMS320 family of digital signal processors-for digital cellular phones, pagers, wireless local loop terminals and other end-user equipment.
Dallas-based Texas Instruments, whose digital base platform is incorporated into half the digital cellular phones manufactured this year, is working with customers and third parties to define how Java technology will be packaged and delivered. Next year, TI plans to offer Java-enabled wireless communications products based on its digital baseband platform.
Personal communications products based on Java-enabled digital signal processing will be able to derive functionality from the wireless network or the Internet. Individual applications thus can thus be downloaded from the network upon request rather than having to be resident in the subscriber equipment.
Besides enabling the wireless devices themselves to tap into a variety of applications they don’t carry with them at all times, the agreement has another goal: to enable creation of a new class of independent software developers whose products can enhance revenue opportunities for wireless service providers seeking to differentiate their services in a competitive environment.
The Texas Instruments Wireless Communications Business Unit will incorporate Sun’s EmbeddedJava and PersonalJava specifications into its wireless communications platforms.
It also will have the right to offer a Java option on any of its processor platforms targeted at embedded systems for consumer products.
PersonalJava and EmbeddedJava “are cut-down versions of the full-scale Java for [personal computers],” said Michael McMahon, worldwide director of research and development for the Texas Instruments business unit. “PersonalJava is aimed at consumer devices with small displays. EmbeddedJava is aimed at a slightly lower market.”
Christian Dupont, worldwide director of the Americas for the TI business unit, said that connectivity to the network isn’t exclusive to Java. “We’re selling bibles, not religion,” he said.
However, McMahon said, “what makes Java valuable is that it’s highly portable and is not specific to a platform.”
Deployment of this technology will be useful for all standards of second generation digital wireless phones by enabling new functions such as map-based navigation, speech recognition and fixed image services over the networks.
“But it will really take off with [third generation] wireless,” McMahon said.