Day: May 12, 2004

  • Enterprise SNAP?

    Following the announcement of SNAP, and the fact that it will first be ready for Series 60 MIDP 2.0, the question is out there in plain sight: What about Enterprise SNAP?

    No really, I’m serious.  Why not use SNAP as a platform for enterprise apps?  With MIDP 2.0 you’ve already got an extremely easy form-based user interface.  Writing a basic MIDP 2.0 form is just above the complexity level of creating a VB form.  Really, it’s simple.

    How much of a gaming framework can be used in the enterprise?  Quite a bit actually.

    The presence info could be killer.

    “Where’s Johson?”
    “One second, let me check.” <our geek hero glances at his 6600> “He’s online, I’ll have him call in.”

    After that, our geek hero can send Johnson a quick message using SNAP’s instant messaging API.

    SNAP may be a useful extension to traditional J2ME->J2EE enterprise solutions, or it might just be useful for some enterprise hacks.  Either way, I can’t wait to take a look at it.

  • Nokia’s Smart Move: Scalable Network Application Package

    From a Nokia press release (emphasis mine):

    Los Angeles, California. May 12, 2004 – Nokia today premiered the first multiplayer Java games based on its SNAP Mobile solution at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Developed together with Sega Mobile, the SNAP Mobile demonstration features multiplayer gaming for Java games, in addition to key community features such as friends lists, presence, and instant messaging. The Sega Mobile game demos are the first example of how SNAP Mobile brings the technology utilized in the N-Gage Arena gaming community to mass market Java terminals.

    SNAP is going to blow the lid off of J2ME MIDP 2.0 development.  Not only are mobile game developers going to be able to easily create several different types of multiplayer networked games (ranking, freestyle, challenge, etc), but we’re going to be able to take advantage of all of the extra bits that come with the platform.

    Here’s another choice snippet (emphasis mine again):

    The first demonstrations of SNAP Mobile will be implemented in MIDP 2.0 on Series 60, and support for other platforms will follow. The SNAP Mobile client development kit is expected to be made available for Java game developers free of charge in the third quarter of 2004. The server components can be licensed by mobile operators and other interested service providers or they can opt for a hosted community service. With either option, service providers will be able to create, build and brand their mobile gaming communities and drive data revenues and customer loyalty.

    Hey Nokia: Smartest. Move. Evar!  It sounds like they’re going to release the libraries and API docs on Forum Nokia and let ideas flourish rather than try to keep them locked down.  It’s a perfect strategy too: a small mobile gaming startup creates a killer game.  It includes some multiplayer aspects that require the Nokia server components.  All of a sudden they’ve got to license the server side stuff directly from Nokia or make a deal with a carrier.  Everyone is free to create a killer game, but if you need the server side stuff, Nokia’s going to be making a buck one way or another.

    I look forward to taking a look at SNAP sometime in Q3.  I know that it has me excited, and I’m pretty sure that Nokia has the ear of a lot of J2ME developers.


    Note above that they are planning to roll out SNAP first on Series 60 MIDP 2.0.  That means that they see the big picture.  If they were planning on keeping SNAP on the N-Gage they would have not mentioned which platform they would deploy on first.  What does this mean?  It means that when released, SNAP should work on pretty much any S60 that has MIDP 2.0.  That means that a 6600 or a 7610 should be able to run SNAP out of the box.

    But wait, does that mean that initial versions of SNAP will not work on the N-Gage or N-Gage QD?  Yep.  They’re MIDP 1.0, which lacks things like a Bluetooth API, decent socket support, and has a whole lot of limitations that are going to make backporting SNAP a pain in the butt, if not impossible if they want to keep it feature complete.  Of course the Bluetooth API is optional, but can be found in all Series 60 MIDP 2.0 devices to date.

    Does anyone else smell an N-Gage 2 featuring S60 v2.0 and MIDP 2.0 coming in the next few months?  I think I do.  Jim at All About N-Gage thinks it might be a possibility too.

  • What is Really Holding Tablet PCs Back?

    Scoble is defending the Tablet PC team from an article at Microsoft Watch.  I wish that there wasn’t so much to defend.  Tablets are one of those things that I’ve wanted to see take off since the 486 Fujitsu days.  Every few years someone has a go at it, and Microsoft (along with their hardware partners) have a better shot at it than anyone before them.

    But there are problems.

    Price is probably the number one factor that is keeping the Tablet PC install base down.  I’ve looked at a few TabletPC models at my local Micro Center, which usually has a few in stock, and their sales guys know much more than your standard CompUSA or Best Buy.  I played with a Tablet PC.  It was a compelling experience.  Unfortunately it wasn’t two grand compelling.  It wasn’t twice as much as I ended up paying for a higher spec’d but bigger (and non-tablet) laptop that I ended up getting.

    Twice the price is no big deal if the price itself does not concern the buyer.  Unfortunately we don’t all drive 7 series BMW’s and we can’t all write it off as a business expense.  I could quite easily pick up a well endowed mid-range budget notebook (like the $1000 HPs, Compaqs, E-Machines, etc) plus a good desktop and a LCD panel for the price of one of the Tablet PCs that was on display.

    I know that Tablet PCs are different.  They’ve got to be a little lighter, they’ve got to have a detachable keyboard or that cool little rotating double swinging hinge thing that rocks so much.  That’s more expensive.  They also tend to use the (more expensive) little low-powered chips from Intel.  I know that all of the more expensive components combined with a big R&D bill equals a higher price tag.

    But dude, we can’t afford it.

    If there had been a $1000 Tablet PC right next to a $1000 laptop, I’d pick up the Tablet PC, hands down.  I’ve never seen such a thing in the flesh though.  I would so rock a Tablet PC.  It’d be with me ready to whip out at a moments notice.  Tablets promote casual everyday use that you just can’t do with a laptop.  You can cradle the tablet in your arm while scribbling, while I can assure you that balancing a laptop and typing while moving is no easy task.

    The moral of the story: make these things cheap.  It’s the only way you’re going to get market share.  There are lots of people that would buy a Tablet PC in an instant, they just can’t afford the tablet tax.