The Feature have a story about large content companies jumping on mobile as a solution to all their problems - especially Java-on-mobile.

Like Russell, I'm no sure that this is the no-brainer it's presented as. They say "mobile Java gives us the opportunity to build an interface to put all a broadcaster’s content in one area, from which consumers can navigate to from one place": but this is by no means exclusive to mobile Java. Any regular service on an operator portal will live in a specific area (e.g. "Healthcare", or the vacuous catch-all "Lifestyle"), from which customers can navigate from one place, the operator portal home-page (which is often accessible with one click from the front screen of a mobile these days). So for ease and coherence of distribution, I don't think that Java is the winner - especially when you bear in mind that placement on an operator portal is effectively promotion of your content.

Similarly, the "ability to dynamically update content" isn't unique to Java: content providers (including our clients) are already doing this themselves on browsable services provided via the operators. And mobile Java doesn't (in the vast majority of handsets) give you the ability to push out new content to handsets; at best you can check for new content next time the user chooses to start your java application, but that's not the same thing: it's like the difference between email (which you have to go and check) and text messaging (which comes to you).

The article is correct in stating that Java can provide a better user experience than WAP - though "can" is different from "will", and the cost of providing this enhanced experience by addressing all the different handsets out there will outweigh this benefit, for some people. Licensing off-the-shelf technology to build your Java service might help reduce the set-up cost, but once everyone is licensing this technology to build these services, how is yours differentiated from the competition? Where Java really wins is in building the sorts of interfaces which would be impossible in browser-based systems. Hopefully I can talk about a project which we're working on in this area soon.

And finally, how does any of this help with the bigger problem faced by the mobile content industry, the revenue share taken by operators? How will these Java portals do billing? It'll either be direct-via-operator (in which case they take their cut), by premium SMS (through which, once again, you give up a chunk to operators), or some other "chargeable account" means using credit cards or similar, which immediately removes one of the key benefits of mobile content: the simple user experience of being billed.