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PalmOne serves up Java tools

PalmOne hands developers an IBM toolkit to create Java applications for its Treo and Tungsten handhelds, hoping that a bigger lineup of mobile software will land it more corporate customers.

PalmOne has smoothed the way for developers to create Java applications for its Treo and Tungsten handheld computers, a move it hopes will help it win more corporate customers.

The Milpitas, Calif.-based hardware maker said Monday that it released a test edition of IBM's WebSphere Micro Environment that includes support for Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), a set of programming tools for portable devices. The software, a version of a recently released package from IBM, is available free at Palm's developer site.

The toolkit opens the door for developers who create Java applications--such as software to run games, location-based services, financial information, personal productivity tools and entertainment services--to work more easily with PalmOne devices, because they won't have to write new code just for the handhelds.

The move is likely to lead to an increase in the number of business services and applications available for PalmOne's products, which could in turn encourage large companies to make handheld use a more common part of corporate life.

"As enterprises look at ways to untether their work forces, the rich pool of Java developers can use existing skills and resources to bring their applications to the rapidly growing mobile market in a consistent manner, with more speed and efficiency," said Craig Hayman, a vice president in IBM's Pervasive Computing Division.

The WebSphere Micro Environment toolkit for Palm developers can be used with any J2ME-compatible development environment, including Borland JBuilder, SunONE Studio and Simplicity for Mobile Devices. The final version of the toolkit will be available in the spring, according to IBM representatives.

Palm said earlier this year that it would use IBM's WebSphere Micro Edition in its Tungsten devices. The software is optimized for the ARM processors used in high-end Tungsten and Treo devices.

In addition, the two companies struck an agreement last year that lets businesses running IBM's WebSphere e-commerce software to use Palm devices to get information stored on WebSphere servers.

Increasingly, device manufacturers and software makers are adding support for Java to attract enterprise customers. In September, wireless service company Danger announced a licensing agreement with Sun Microsystems for its J2ME software.

The start-up, which designs the Hiptop handheld, is in the process of making its software Java-compliant and has said it will launch products that use J2ME in the first half of next year.