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Sun's Scott McNealy: Lost in translation

Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy denies telling a Korean journalist that his company is working with Samsung to develop a new phone to rival Apple's iPhone.

Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy said he was misquoted in a South Korean newspaper earlier this week as saying Sun and cell phone maker Samsung Electronics are working on an iPhone-killer.

McNealy, who stopped in New York Thursday on his way back from South Korea to deliver a speech at the World Business Forum, said that the newspaper must have misunderstood a translation of what he had said.

Scott McNealy

"I never said that," he said. "I'm not really sure where they got that. I think it was a translation problem."

When pressed further during an interview with CNET News.com, McNealy remained tight-lipped on any news.

"We haven't announced anything," he said.

Indeed, the company has not announced any official partnership with Samsung, but a representative for the phone maker told the Associated Press after the misinterpreted quote circulated yesterday that the companies are working together.

It makes sense that Sun would be working with Samsung. And it wouldn't take a huge stretch of the imagination to figure out what they could be working on.

Sun, which already provides a stripped-down version of Java for billions of cell phones sold around the world, announced in May a more robust version of its Java software called JavaFX Mobile. It's geared toward small devices like smartphones that have more processing power than the average cell phone. Unlike the Java Micro Edition, which today runs on billions of cell phones around the globe, the JavaFX Mobile software is most similar to the Java Standard Edition (SE) software that runs on standard PCs.

With this more powerful software, Samsung and its partners could develop applications for cell phones that more closely resemble those running on PCs. This means Web surfing and interactive cell phone games would look more like what people are used to on their PCs.

Apple has already attempted to do this with its iPhone, which allows people to shrink and magnify Web pages so that the pages render on the screen just as they do on a regular computer.

Even though McNealy denies he said Sun and Samsung are working on an iPhone-killer, there is still a very good chance that something is cooking between the two companies. Any plans are likely still in the initial stages of development, so stay tuned.