Tuesday, February 26, 2008

BDJ Revisited

My last blog entry talked about Blu-Ray Java a.k.a. BDJ. Hanging out in the groups however, not all is well in the land of BDJ.

The first problem is fragmentation. BDJ is really young and the fact that fragmentation is already a problem is something I find completely unacceptable. Fragmentation means that either the reliability or availability of the code that ships with the device varies enough that you have to change your application code to work around bugs or missing features. In layman's term, it means you need to ship different SKUs and that costs money. Money to package, money to validate and money to distribute. Java ME fragmentation has really gotten out of control these last few years. The Transformers movie tie-in game is one of the biggest Java ME project ever undertaken. In all, some 25,000 SKUs shipped in order to support all the phones out there. Yes, that's 25,000, twenty five thousand SKUs. I can only imagine what the cost of getting that game to run on all these handsets was. No horror story of this magnitude in the land of BDJ yet, however the "Chicken Little" movie application apparently had 30 different variants in order to run.

Not all is lost however. Unlike Java ME (CLDC or CDC variants) on phones. The Java ME/CDC stack that is shipped with BDJ is upgradeable. If your device is networked, it can phone home and check for upgrades. If your player isn't networked, upgrades can still ship with a movie disk. I'm not sure what the experience is for the end user considering most users won't even understand what this is upgrading in the first place but let's hope it's very transparent.

For the moment anyway, this needs to be dealt with. Content authors are overwhelmingly choosing HDMV for their content over BDJ. Only 30 of the 600 or so Blu-Ray movies that have shipped, i.e., roughly 5%, use BDJ.

It could be just familiarity with HDMV since these authors have been using it for quite some time on regular non-HD disks, or could it be the complete lack of tools? This being the second problem. I've blogged before about JavaFX. JavaFX is many things, but what it really is a codeword to right all the past wrongs of Java on the client. So, even if we haven't seen any JavaFX authoring tools for designers, Sun has confirmed that it's working on components for Adobe products to output JavaFX scripts. Now that could be something that is enticing for content authors. The HDMV tools don't even come close to the Adobe design tools.

Finally, my last gripe is why did anyone even bother with Java ME in the first place for these devices? For crying out loud, these devices can decode and output 1080p video. I think they can handle the full Java SE platform. Considering that Sun has announced their intention to eventually phase out Java ME over the next decade to converge with Java SE, did they really have to add another few hundred million devices as part of that phase out plan?

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