It's been a good week for Java ME. Although much of the hype in so-called "developed markets" is focused on smartphone platforms, the majority of the world continues to use feature phones and the best way to bring applications to these devices is with Java ME. In India alone, feature phone users outnumber smartphone users by a factor of 18 to 1! Because of the vast number of Java ME enabled phones, app development for the platform represents a significant market opportunity for mobile app developers. With minimal code modifications developers can reach hundreds of millions of feature phones.
Well, a couple of events have occurred in the past week that reinforce this opportunity. Remember Snaptu, you know, the company that enables Facebook to run on billions of phones
? Facebook decided this week to shell out $70 million dollars and acquire Snaptu
outright. Why? Well, by some estimates
there are around 1.4 billion personal computers in the world. 1.4 billion might seem like a huge number, but a number of estimates peg the total number of mobile subscribers at close to 5 billion or more - more than 3 times the number of personal computers. In addition, Facebook has been striking deals to enable users to access their mobile portal for free in certain geographies. Through applications that deliver "smartphone-like" user experiences on lower-cost devices and through free access in key geographies, Facebook has the opportunity to significantly improve their reach.
Another company making headlines this week is Bitstream, whose new Bolt SDK
enables developers to "build feature rich Java (Java ME) applications that work just as well on entry-level feature phones as they do on high-end smartphones." The Bolt browser is one of the more popular Java ME applications and one of its key benefits is that it can take advantage of compression technologies on the back-end to improve the on-device experience, enabling users to render full web content on low-cost devices. With its new SDK, Bitstream is empowering developers to leverage the capability of the Bolt browser from within their applications.
If you are interested in learning more, check out our webcast: Mobile Java Applications in Feature Phones, A rich Opportunity for Developers