Despite its booming popularity, Java's own creator does not believe Java-based applications themselves will be the next "killer app".
James Gosling, Sun Microsystems chief scientist and co-author of Java, said this week that while so many "killer" applications exist, the network remains central to their ability to work in distributed environments.
"The killer app is the network," Gosling said.
Gosling joined John Gage, director of the Sun Microsystems Science office, and Java evangelist Miko Matsumura on the set of Sun Microsystems' live broadcast of its "Sunergy" TV show this week. This time, the show was designed to promote its Jini technology, widely touted as the next most important phase in Java's development.
Jini is designed to allow users access to almost any physical, or "dumb", Java-enabled device across the network. Using Java as the common language, Jini devices can communicate with any other network device using the Internet as the access point to a virtual world where those objects are represented.
After the show, Gosling refuted suggestions that Sun will face ongoing difficulties promoting the Jini technology without Microsoft's support.
"We're not going it alone," Gosling said, referring to Sun's industry partners such as IBM, Oracle and SAP. "Microsoft really isn't a partner to anybody," he said.
However, Jini largely remains a "virtual reality" concept that is yet to take off in the real world. Gage admitted the critical focus for the next stage of Java was to "make it real, just deliver".
He said the first .Jini-based devices are expected to hit consumer and electronic markets in early 1999. According to Gage, Motorola and Sony are expected to be early Jini adopters with commitments to using Java in such devices as mobile phones, pagers and digital cameras.
But despite the signs of early market activity, Gosling conceded Sun faces "a certain amount" of confusion in the marketplace over the complexity of Java and its changing standards. "JDK 1.2 has been quite a trial."
In Java's defence, he said a distinction must be made between "perceived complexity" of object-oriented programming and the simplicity of the final result, or implementation, of Java programming.