Where are you? JSR-179

Location based services on cell phones have always ranked high on thelist of killer application for portable devices. In the Java world this is embodied in the JSR-179 specification tabled by Nokia and released in September of 2003. That's great news for developers, except it's been almost two years since it's release and only a few phones I can find support it (from Nokia, Motorola and Siemens) and the Nokia ones are not even on the market yet.

So far I've only found the N91 on the Nokia UK site, the Nokia 6265 and 6265i are listed as having support for JSR-179 but I haven't yet found them on any Nokia website and the Motorola i605 (gps) and i830 (gps) only available through Nextel. I also found some Siemens phones from here (CX65, C65, S6V, S65). Russell Beattie mentioned the N91 in April pointing out among other things that it had WiFi, but didn't mention the location capabilities.

Problem number two might involve the carriers. I believe the carrier must support the passing of triangulation information if the phone isn't GPS based. It's in the carrier's best interest to enable this data but privacy advocates might not agree with me. The bottom line is of course that if you don't want to use location based applications, you don't have to. Jay Goldman also pointed out that 911 requirements may force a carrier to provide this information though that doesn't necessarily mean that the handset applications will have access to it.

Two years seems like enough time to integrate this JSR with a phone but perhaps the development timelines didn't allow for it. Furthermore, I don't see anyone marketing this to developers with any great amount of gusto. Location based applicatons are going to be a huge opportunity in the mobile software market, but it's a tipping point technology that requires a push from the carriers with a platform from the manufacturers.

In the mean time I'll start researching the capabilities on Rogers, Bell and Telus networks in Canada. Any information is appreciated.