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Report: Samsung prepping Java phone

Is a Korean newspaper quote from Sun Chairman Scott McNealy the first evidence of a Java FX Mobile phone? Or maybe a translation error?

In a development that could be anywhere interesting, sleep-inducing or potentially even fictitious, Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy said Samsung is building a Java phone that will have better features and lower cost than Apple's iPhone.

Sun software chief Rich Green holds a Java FX Mobile-powered phone from FIC at the JavaOne conference in May. Sun Microsystems

At least, that's what the Associated Press story about a report in the Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo.

Java is open-source software that at least in principle lets the same program run without having to be modified for different hardware. It's already widely used on mobile phones, including models from Samsung. What could make this story more interesting is if Samsung is embracing Sun's Java FX Mobile software, which Sun obtained through its acquisition of start-up SavaJe.

Typical phones today use the lightweight Java ME, stripped down for phones' anemic processing abilities, but Java FX Mobile is a variant of the desktop Java SE version. Adapting desktop software for increasingly powerful mobile devices is the strategy that Apple embraced with the iPhone and that Intel and Ubuntu sponsor Canonical are adopting with mobile Linux.

Of course, it all could amount to nothing, too, and given that whatever McNealy said likely was translated at least twice, that possibility shouldn't be ruled out. The AP quoted a Samsung spokeswoman Lee Soo-jeong as saying the two companies have talked but that "no decision has been made regarding co-development of the Java phone."

For its part, Sun wouldn't comment in detail on the situation. "Sun has a longstanding relationship with Samsung, working for years on Java-enabled phones and devices. Beyond that we have no comment about future plans and products," spokesman Russ Castronovo said.