Sony to build Java support into PlayStation 2

Move opens the way for apps to connect to other devices

Sony Computer Entertainment has announced plans to build support for Sun Microsystems' Java programming language into its PlayStation 2 games console. The announcement was made Monday at Sun's JavaOne worldwide developer conference in San Francisco.

The company said the addition of Java will make it easier to connect the PlayStation 2 to other devices running Java, such as PDAs (personal digital assistants) and cell phones, and to play simple Java-based games on the console.

At present, Japan's NTT DoCoMo is the only cellular carrier to be offering handsets that support Java. The handsets for its I-Appli service, which went on sale earlier this year, allow users to play simple games. Sony and DoCoMo are already working on a service to link their respective game consoles and telephone handsets in Japan. They have also announced plans to take the alliance international with the creation of mobile Internet gaming platforms for PlayStation and I-Appli cell phones around the world.

Monday's announcement makes Java the latest in a string of technologies from the PC and Internet world that will be built into the PlayStation 2 console. In May Sony said it planned to add support for Real Networks' Real Player and Macromedia's Flash player. Sony announced earlier this month plans to provide access to America Online's AOL online service through the PlayStation 2. Sony is trying to make the PlayStation 2 into an access device for broadband networks and so support for widely used Internet technologies is important.

For Sun, the deal holds the potential to expand the market for Java-based software and services into the mass consumer market. Sony's PlayStation 2 console has proved extremely popular and had already found its way into 10.6 million homes by March 31 this year, according to company reports.

Martyn Williams is a Tokyo correspondent for the IDG News Service.