J2ME is dead! Good Bye, Java ME!

Java ME has no future

CBS-based cell-tracking J2ME app running on Motorola V3 RAZR

I was programming on Android when I got the idea that the “Cell Info” or the cell tower information can be used as what someone called “a poor man’s GPS.”

“Cell Info” is part of a technology called Cell Broadcast System (CBS). Most cell phone towers broadcast these messages every few minutes. In the CBS messages broadcast by BSNL cell towers, you will find the name of the area. Some providers such as Vodafone or Tata broadcast only commercial messages.

Many Nokia “feature” phones display CBS messages by default. In other phones, CBS can be enabled, although it may be hidden in layers of menu options. (Android does not support CBS because Google (I believe) wants people to use their Maps service instead.)

As I prefer feature phones over “smart” phones, I wanted to write a J2ME app that could keep track of CBS messages. Thus, began my SHORT journey into Java for mobiles. It was short because I ran into a lot of problems – a lot of “no, you can’t do that in J2ME” situations.

Disadavantages of J2ME Apps

  1. J2ME apps run in the foreground. You cannot run them in the background. Minimized Java programs usually get terminated.
  2. J2ME programs will drain your phone battery pretty fast.
  3. Any J2ME app that you create will run under limited security permissions. Java apps provided by the phone manufacturer run with greater permissions.
  4. J2ME by is a limited platform with lot of optional features. Phone providers skimp on the optional features and there is no guarantee that your app will run on all Java-enabled phones.

Oracle, which acquired Java along with Sun, has started work on a new Java ME. It is unlikely to succeed in mobile phone segment, given the onslaught of IOS, Android and others. It may however continue live a faceless existence on set-top boxes, Blu Ray players, and other nondescript devices. Unless of course Oracle starts a new phone platform, which I think it is unlikely to do so.

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