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Although MIDP 1.0 has been the catalyst for mobile data services, the introduction of MIDP 2.0 promises to unlock a raft of new features. Eddie Pratt, Head of Product Management at elata explains how the increased functionality of MIDP 2.0 will drive revenue streams from a new breed of Java applications for mobile operators across Europe.

J2ME MIDP 1.0 is widely regarded as an industry success story with over 75 million Java-enabled handsets currently deployed worldwide. As a direct result, we have seen operators increasing their data revenues and subscribers downloading a new generation of cool games onto their handsets. However, MIDP 1.0 is somewhat restricted in its functionality and the advent of MIDP 2.0 brings with it not only new features, but a new security model that will allow Java to reach its full potential in a carefully managed environment. As with all good technological evolutions, MIDP 2.0 opens up a host of new functionalities that will power the next generation of gaming, business and consumer applications.

MIDP 2.0 has a multitude of enhancements including a new security model, a standardised over the air (OTA) provisioning mechanism, push services, and multimedia and gaming enhancements. The multimedia and gaming enhancements are vital to mobile development, as they provide some much-needed features including the ability to playback audio, access to phone features (such as a camera), as well as the provision of image buffering and layers for games developers. However, the real power of the platform is unlocked in the number of other features that MIDP 2.0 offers.
Over The Air (OTA) Provisioning
In MIDP 1.0, OTA provisioning – the ability to download Java MIDlets (J2ME Applications) to a mobile device – was only a recommended practice. Consequently, there were interoperability problems between handsets and provisioning servers, which should be resolved with the inclusion of OTA provisioning in the MIDP 2.0 specification. The specification includes messages to notify the provisioning platform of the successful installation and removal of applications. If the handset and provisioning platform vendors follow the specification, subscribers should be able to download MIDlets with ease.

These enhancements should lead to a more satisfied subscriber, increased revenue for the operator, and less time and money spent on addressing interoperability issues and refunds for download failures.

elata senses supports both the OTA recommended practice as defined for MIDP 1.01 and the standard in the MIDP 2.02 specification, which ensures provisioning interoperability for both MIDP 1.0 and MIDP 2.0 enabled handsets. This is important as a combination of both handsets will be on the market at the same time, which will require both identification and support from any provisioning platform.
Robust Security Model
MIDP 1.0 provided a safe, restricted environment for introducing executable Java applications to handsets. This was ideal for games, but proved restrictive for more adventurous applications and services requiring ‘push’ information, such as stock tickers and instant messaging. MIDP 2.0’s new security model introduces the concept of security domains that prevent MIDlets from gaining unauthorised access to data, applications, and other network and device resources, including networking connections and extended APIs for sending SMS. These resources may be ‘sensitive’ as APIs that perform a data network call or send an SMS message can incur a charge for the subscriber.

The security model introduces the concept of trusted and un-trusted security domains. If a MIDlet belongs to an un-trusted security domain then it can access regular features in much the same way as a MIDP 1.0 application. However, if a MIDlet belongs to a trusted domain, it has ‘permission’ to access sensitive or restricted functionality. For maximum security, the default rule is to place all MIDlets in the un-trusted domain until they are ‘signed’ with an X.509 PKI security certificate, from a trusted source, prior to OTA provisioning to the handset.

Operators, handset vendors, and content developers will require a security certificate from bodies such as Verisign. The problem of managing these certificates and signing content is a major new issue for the Java community that needs to be addressed and resolved.

Provisioning platforms will play a key role in the certificate management and MIDlet signing process. For example, prior to provisioning content, many operators wish to customise or brand MIDlets and the MIDlet must be signed again, even if it was already signed prior to the customisation. The elata senses platform removes the pain of handling the security certificates and MIDlet signing process by simplifying and streamlining the workflow for the operator. It can store multiple certificates corresponding to different content providers and these certificates can be used to sign MIDlets as an integrated part of the provisioning workflow, even after customisation of MIDlets has taken place.

The signed MIDlet is compared against a certificate stored on the handset and if it has been successfully authenticated, it will be registered as a member of the trusted domain and permitted access to sensitive API calls. However, if a failure occurs, it places the MIDlet in the un-trusted domain and any further calls to sensitive APIs are forbidden.

This security model protects the subscriber from rogue applications that could lead to unexpected costs and it also ensures that sensitive functionality is carefully opened up to a new breed of applications.

Secure Networking
Secure networking was not a standard feature of MIDP 1.0 and this caused a real problem for operators wishing to launch services, like m-commerce, which required secure networking features. MIDP 2.0 addresses this problem by mandating that HTTPS (secure HTTP) be supported in all compliant handsets. This ensures that secure services can be launched across all MIDP 2.0 handsets, safe in the knowledge that they will support the necessary security requirements, which in turn will lead to a new wave of business and consumer applications hungry for this feature.

MIDP 2.0 is expected to build upon the success of MIDP 1.0 by enabling the development of more compelling games and multimedia applications and delivering a comprehensive security model and standardised OTA provisioning model. The consumer mobile games market is already hot, providing some real revenues for operators. The addition of secure, robust business applications will add further fuel to this fire and fully unleash the power of the MIDP 2.0 platform.

References:
MIDP 1.0 specification1 http://www.jcp.org/aboutJava/communityprocess/final/jsr037/i...
MIDP 2.0 specification2 http://www.jcp.org/aboutJava/communityprocess/final/jsr118/i...


About elata
elata, the UK-based innovative wireless software specialist has been developing solutions for mobile operators and service providers since 1996. The elata senses subscriber management and service delivery system forms the software foundation of a mobile operator’s wireless service delivery platform (SDP) and enables the operator to manage their subscriber base and deliver different content types, including wireless Java, to mobile devices. Both platform and device independent, elata senses enables mobile operators to drive revenues from new generation wireless data services. Three (formerly Hutchison 3G UK Limited) and Amena in Spain are among those who deploy elata senses throughout their networks.

http://www.elata.com


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