Maybe you thought that only high-end mobile phone that can be packed with applications.  But Bakrie Telecom, a new CDMA operator in Indonesia, and its BREW applications deny that notion.  In Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2008,  Bakrie Telecom launched product packages application-rich low-end mobile phones called Esia Hidayah where the highest price from its two variants is not even reach US$60 (incl. VAT and free talk time worth US$1.5).

There are two variants and main difference with the more expensive variant is its capability to use Opera Minibrowser.  Although Bakrie Telecom’s campaign, because of its target market, stressed its Islamic content and deliberately coincided its launching with the holy month of Ramadan, but it’s more fascinating to know that, thanks to BREW application platform, such low end mobile phones model can be used to delivered multimedia applications.

A Very Low End Mobile Phone

These low end mobile phones is so simple that it has no memory except the one used by their client’s application, so almost everything has to be served from the network.  Its Al Quran reciter application for example, which can provide recitation for the whole 30 juz (chapters) from the Holy Book.  That’s not all, while listening to the recitation, users can simulataneously read the scripture in Arabic or its translation in Indonesian.  Something which is not imaginable before from this kind of low end mobile phone.

A Link to CNN Report on Esia Hidayah.

What is BREW?

BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) is an application development platform created by QUALCOMM, originally for CDMA mobile phones, but GSM is now also supported.

A software platform that enable low-end mobile phones to download and run small programs for playing games, play online music (hosted application — so user can enjoy Michael Jackson’s Thriller on cheap mobile phones), sending messages, sharing photos, accessing facebook etc. The main advantage of BREW platforms is that the application developers can easily port their applications between all Qualcomm/BREW-compatible devices.  BREW acts between the application and the wireless device on-chip operating system in order to allow programmers to develop applications without needing to code for system interface or understand wireless applications.

Most people outside the mobile communication industry will probably never have heard of it yet, as it’s yet to make much of an impact in GSM dominated regions.  It’s a different story in the USA (or regions with significant CDMA penetration), though, where BREW has grown strongly and is already the premier mobile gaming platform.

The big advantage of BREW is its 3D capabilities.  It’s a far more advanced platform than J2ME, and it enables developers to make much more complex games (provided the destination handset has the processing power to run them).

Aside from the more powerful gaming credentials of BREW, there are a number of advantages for developers. Firstly, the platform is less fragmented than J2ME.  There are far fewer differences in BREW running on a Samsung handset to BREW running on a Nokia model, for instance.

Secondly, the way in which BREW games are written in mobile phones is even easier to get to grips with than Java, as it uses the popular C and C++ languages, both of which are commonly used in the PC arena.

If you have a working knowledge of either C or C++ you’ll be able to get started programming in BREW almost immediately by downloading the SDK.

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