AT&T drops Java on mobile phones, Sun updates JavaFX to no avail

Java is the enterprise language of choice. It seems that it has less to offer the mobile phone ecosystem.

Dave Rosenberg Co-founder, MuleSource
Dave Rosenberg has more than 15 years of technology and marketing experience that spans from Bell Labs to startup IPOs to open-source and cloud software companies. He is CEO and founder of Nodeable, co-founder of MuleSoft, and managing director for Hardy Way. He is an adviser to DataStax, IT Database, and Puppet Labs.
Dave Rosenberg
2 min read

Just as Sun announced the latest rev of JavaFX, AT&T announced that they would drop Java-based phones, favoring Symbian.

Tom Krazit reported earlier today on the news, quoting Roger Smith, director of next-generation services at AT&T who said "Java has not been a success," Smith said. "It's not because Java is bad, but we didn't manage it effectively."

The basic premise of the argument against Java is that it became fragmented with every manufacturer using its own version and defeating much of the purpose of Java as a platform to begin with.

And as mobile phones have started to become more and more like mobile computers, the software on those phones needs to become more and more sophisticated to run intriguing applications, Smith said. Java doesn't reach down far enough into the lower levels of the phone to exploit hardware in the manner that full-fledged operating systems do, he said.

I find it a bit curious that Smith felt that Java wasn't capable of exploiting the full hardware functionality. That sounds like more of a development issue then it does a functional requirement. Arguably the operating system should be abstracted to the point where Java can do what developers need it to.

As Stephen Shankland wrote about JavaFX today:
JavaFX also comes with a slick feature, the ability to move running applications out of the browser and onto the desktop--and back, if desired. Essentially, they can change their nature and abilities according to where they're housed. And the same application also can run on JavaFX Mobile, holding the promise for programmers that they won't have to endlessly rewrite the same applications for different media.

JavaFX looks to be very powerful as witnessed in the video below by Redmonk analyst Michael Cote. But the question is one of relevance. It's not clear that developers are terribly interested in JavaFX to begin with and the dream of monetizing mobile phones is clearly out the window with the largest wireless carrier.