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Russell Buckley is understandably frustrated by Java ME fragmentation:
According to a Greg Ballard of mobile games maker, Glu, in a recent interview in Mobile Entertainment, their Transformers game needed no less than 25,000 SKUs (or variants). 25,000! This has reached the point of absurdity.
Actually, 25,000 SKUs is GOOD news
Every year more phones, more
platforms, more operators comes to market, etc; the fragmentation
increases. Standardization don't fix it, market forces don't fix
(The situation on mobile browsers is not much better. How many different mobile browsers are there? 25? More? If you count all the different releases you probably have a couple of hundred. There is no trend towards less fragmentation either on native or runtime.)
There are 2 billion Java ME phones out there and more is coming every day. Pointing fingers or dreaming about how things should have been is futile. The ONLY solution to this situation as it stands today is technological.
The 25.000 SKUs are generated automatically. Glu has their own in-house technology. They don't make 25.000 variants by hand. Technology to handle technical fragmentation is maturing. Currently only large companies have access to such tools, as they are very expensive. But its a matter of time before this kind of technology gets within reach of small developers.
Actually, the situation is exactly the same on the fixed web. If you set out to to create a RIA, you don't sit down and hack something by hand that works in 10 different browser versions. You use tools like Dojo, YUI, Ruby on Rails, etc.
25.000 SKUs means that Glu has overcome the fragmentation problem, and that is a good sign.