Mobile apps driving Java growth in Asia

Sun Microsystems exec says Java is riding on the "high degree" of mobile application development in the region.

The pervasiveness of mobile phones today is driving the rapid growth of Java application development in Asia, according to Sun Microsystems.

Matt Thompson, senior director of Sun's developer network and open source programs office, said: "There is a high degree of mobile application development across Asia and that pulls Java along with it. Obviously, with the vast majority of handsets on the planet carrying Java, it has become either a front-end or back-end technology, or both."

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Sun Tech Days developer conference held recently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thompson added that interest in Java mobile applications has been growing in Asia.

"I was in Korea two weeks ago for a Java conference and [discussion] was all focused on mobility," he said. Today, about 1 billion cellular phones worldwide use some form of Java software.

Attended by over 1,500 participants, the developer conference was officiated by Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Kong Cho Ha and also featured a keynote address by the inventor of Java, James Gosling.

According to Thompson, telcos and mobile operators in Malaysia often rely on third-party Java developers to build Java components for their mobile applications.

"For example, your mobile handsets have applications which either use Java [on the] front-end or back-end, and these applications were built by people in Malaysia," he said, noting that Sun is seeing "a lot of innovation" in this area from the country's professional Java developer community.

Malaysia is also home to a high level of Java development skills, both at the university and professional levels, Thompson said.

Over 70 Java startups have been nurtured in the past two years through the Sun-sponsored Java Technopreneur Development Center (JTrend), located in the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). JTrend is a collaboration between Sun, Malaysia's Multimedia University and the Multimedia Development Corp.

In addition, more than 200 developers have been trained via the JTrend initiative, said Gan Boon San, Sun's Malaysia managing director. To date, Gan added, Sun has trained "thousands" of the country's university students in Java and Solaris.