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Qualcomm, Oracle join mobile forces

The companies are working together to make BREW software for cell phones interact with some Oracle databases, according to Qualcomm.

Qualcomm on Wednesday said it is working with Oracle to make Qualcomm's BREW software for cell phones interact with some Oracle databases.

BREW, or Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless, was introduced in February 2001. Its rival is Sun Microsystems' Java. Both let cell phones download software. Carriers use BREW or Java in their devices to offer ring tones, games, cell phone screen savers and other items.

Oracle databases that the software will work with include the 9i Lite, which specializes in mobile devices. An Oracle representative said 9i Lite lets consumers keep working on a Web-based application like a sales order, for example, even if they undock their laptops from their office's computer network. The changes made while undocked are automatically added when the laptop is reconnected with the office network.

9i Lite servers can be used with cell phones or other wireless devices connected to an office computer network and working on a sales order. If the cell phone call is disrupted, 9i Lite automatically reconnects to the office network once the phone is back in range of a cell phone antenna and updates the work that was done, according to an Oracle representative.

Paul Jacobs, group president of Qualcomm Wireless & Internet Group, said the two companies would aim future Oracle-Qualcomm products at business professionals, who are among the earliest users of wireless devices.

"The combination of the BREW platform and the mobile client services of Oracle 9i Lite makes it possible to mobilize their core enterprise application," he said.

Verizon Wireless plans to launch a national BREW network beginning June 17; it's currently offered only in San Diego. Japanese carrier KDDI and Korean KT Freetel both have BREW networks. Nextel Communications and Sprint PCS sell or plan to sell Java phones to their customers.

Qualcomm's announcement was made the same day that Oracle said it boosted its support for the Linux operating system with a new version of its database software. The software maker said that it has developed a version of its 9i database software that can run across multiple Linux servers in a configuration called "clustering." Clustering allows businesses to harness multiple servers to run a very large database, so servers can share work or take over from each other if one fails.

The new version of the database includes more fluency in XML (Extensible Markup Language), a Web standard for exchanging information that is a cornerstone of Web services software development.

Overall, Oracle is hoping to reignite its database sales. The company's dominance in the database market has eroded in the past year as a tough economy and stiff competition from IBM and Microsoft have slowed sales. IBM surpassed Oracle in overall database sales in 2001, according to a Gartner study released last month.

In the Linux clustering market, Oracle will meet a familiar competitor: IBM. Janet Perna, general manager of IBM data management software, said the company's DB2 database software has had Linux clustering capabilities for two years and already has a long list of customers.