Matsushita, Sun join up on APIs, PersonalJava

Consumer electronics manufacturer Matsushita is to license Sun Microsystems' PersonalJava technology and work on software for building a wide range of electrical appliances that support the Java platform, such as TV set-top boxes and handheld computers. Matsushita and Sun will also jointly develop a common Java API for digital television-related products investigate a 'smaller footprint Java platform' and APIs for a wider range of appliances.

Matsushita Electric has reached an agreement to license Sun Microsystems' PersonalJava technology and work on software for building a wide range of electrical appliances that support the Java platform, according to a preliminary release by the two companies today.

Officials from both companies are expected to detail the memorandum of understanding in Tokyo later today, according to a spokesman at Matsushita's Tokyo office.

Under the accord, the Osaka-based maker of consumer products will license PersonalJava, a Sun-developed software platform for running Java applications on small consumer devices such as TV set-top boxes and handheld computers. Matsushita and Sun will also jointly develop a common Java API (application programming interface) for digital television-related products, according to the release.

In addition, the partners will investigate and evaluate a "smaller footprint Java platform" and APIs for a wider range of Java-based digital audio-video equipment and home appliances, the release said.

The release did not refer to any joint work between the two companies relating to Sun's Jini technology, a Java-based platform that enables digital devices to easily work with each other over a network, but people familiar with the relationship said Matsushita is investigating the technology.

Top Sun officials in recent months have heavily wooed Japanese computer and electronics makers with the Jini platform.

Matsushita, the company behind the Panasonic, Technics, Quasar and National brands, makes a range of consumer and computer products including Digital Video Disk players, digital cameras, handheld devices and traditional appliances such as air conditioners.

Today's deal adds another thread to a complex Web of relationships that link the world's largest consumer electronics makers to rivals Sun and Microsoft.

Matsushita earlier this year licensed Windows CE from Microsoft. Matsushita's home-town rival, Sony, in April licensed Sun's PersonalJava environment just weeks after it signed a deal with Microsoft over Windows CE.

Matsushita's Tokyo office can be reached at +81-3578-1237 or at http://www.panasonic.com/. Sun, in Mountain View, California, can be reached at +1-650-960-1300 and on the Web at http://www.sun.com/.

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