As Oracle acquires Sun, what now for Java ME?

Technology information giant Oracle announced Monday it will acquire rival Sun Microsystems for about $7.4 billion, or $9.50 per share. The deal pits Oracle, the world's second-largest software maker, against IBM and Hewlett-Packard for dominance of the server and storage markets; Oracle also obtains Sun's Java programming language and Solaris operating system. Oracle co-Founder and CEO Larry Ellison and Sun co-Founder and Chairman Scott McNealy have been allies for decades: The majority of Oracle's database sales have occurred in tandem with Sun servers, and in a statement, McNealy called the deal "a natural evolution of our relationship." Sun's directors have unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to close this summer pending Sun stockholder approval.

Most of the media attention so far has focused on the deal's impact on computing rivals H-P and Dell as well as the new software market threats posed to IBM, which ended acquisition talks with Sun just two weeks ago. But Sun is also responsible for the Java ME application platform, which powers more than 2.2 billion mobile devices. Most recently, at Mobile World Congress 2009 in mid-February, the firm announced the availability of its JavaFX Mobile platform, promising developers an environment to create content and services that leverage Java ME across both mass-market feature phones and smartphones.

"Oracle's relationship with mobile has been a bit lightweight in the past, [but] this acquisition could have significant implications for the mobile world," writes Gartner vice president Nick Jones on the research firm's blog. "It raises lots of interesting questions such as: Will Oracle exercise the same sort of stewardship of Java ME and LWUIT (Lightweight User Interface Toolkit) as Sun did? What happens to the delivery of open source PhoneME and LWUIT releases in 2009? What happens to the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) business? Will Oracle's hard-hearted accountants want to retain the more speculative projects such as JavaFX? What happens to the Netbeans tools?"

For more on the Oracle/Sun deal:
- read this release

Related articles:
Sun expands mobile Java efforts
Sun exec: 'It's a mistake' Java doesn't run on iPhone

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