The public review for the JSR 271, (Mobile Information Device Profile 3 or MIDP 3 ) has started. Those familiar with the JCP process will tell you, this is an important milestone for a JSR. Also those into mobile java will tell that it has been a long waited milestone.
Why do I think this the last MIDP specification? It is definitely not because it solves all the shortcomings of the current MIDP environment for good. I think, we are in an era where java ME innovation on the JCP will be quite limited, this will make alternates the main provider for new technology. There are several reasons that lead me to this conclusion.
One major reason is, there are rising alternates to MIDP, to name some eRCP and the Google Android. One common theme for the newcomers is they are not designed by a committee and they are open source, therefore the innovation on them is rapid and open to anyone.
The costs associated with the licensing, certification of JCP related technologies is a big factor. Handset manufacturers pay substantial amounts of money for java and TCK licenses. This is an additional cost to developing/acquiring of the actual software. The open source nature of the alternates is attractive for the handset manufacturers because not only licensing and TCK costs but also the development costs are lowered.
MIDP is a highly controlled java environment, you work with what you have on the device and that is it. It is not possible to add new capabilities to the environment. As the mobile device business slides more to a software and services business those environments with such possibilities will start to attract more developers on the expense of MIDP.
Does all that mean MIDP is dead today? On the contrary, for the next few years MIDP will remain the most profitable java platform for developers to build on. The amount of existing and the coming mobile devices with built-in MIDP support are enormous and certainly not within the reach of any other alternate.