Computer and network software maker Sun Microsystems Inc. unveiled strong backing on Monday for Jini, its network-simplifying technology. Major companies set to announce support for Jini include printer makers Hewlett-Packard Co. and Canon Inc., cell phone makers Nokia Corp. and Ericsson, and device makers Palm Computing Inc. and Motorola Inc.
In all, more than three dozen companies were expected to support Sun's six-month-old initiative. "This has been about going out there and selling our partners on the technology," said Mike Clary, Jini project director for Sun. "Our next step is to go after service providers and tell them how to create offerings around this." Internet giant America Online Inc. also announced support of Jini Monday. Clary said the two companies are working together to develop special services for consumers and business professionals.
Jini's great promise, according to Sun, is its ability to grant consumers and professionals simple network access among all information appliances. Acting like a local Internet, the technology could connect, for example, a person's cell phone to the address book in the computer back in the office to a local printer. The show of support on Monday is a big win for Sun, coming a mere three weeks after rival Microsoft Corp. announced its similar technology, Universal Plug and Play. The fact that Jini is a finished technology played a big role in Sun's ability to peddle it to its partners. Microsoft's lateness to the game hasn't hurt either. "Universal Plug and Play is not an initiative, but a statement of direction," said Clary.
Several demonstrations of the technology were expected during an afternoon briefing here. Sun plans to show off a Nokia PDA that uses the cellular network to pay for, say, a taxi fare, according to an internal Sun source. Epson and Canon will show off Jini-enabled printers that, once plugged into the network, can be used almost instantly. Another demo will include a digital camera that uses Jini technology to plug into photo-printing kiosks. Jini will apply to appliances as simple as a coffee maker or a dishwasher. Sun will show off a Jini-enabled dishwasher from Siemens that can perform diagnostics and inform the consumer and an appliance repair company when it has maintenance problems.
But perhaps the first and most useful application will be for mobile computing. Sun is expected to show off a 3Com Corp. Palm device using Jini to connect to a mobile network. For instance, such a network would allow consumers to control lighting and appliances from home, or to get information from the Internet while staying at a hotel and have printouts routed to the hotel printer