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A growing culture of homebrew developers has embraced cell phone application development. The term "homebrew" refers to the fact that these developers typically do not work for a cell phone development company and generally produce small, one-off products on their own time.

Another, more compelling "necessity" that kept cell phone development out of the hands of the everyday developer was the hardware manufacturers' solution to the "memory versus need" dilemma. Until recently, cell phones did little more than execute and receive phone calls, track your contacts, and possibly send and receive short text messages; not really the "Swiss army knives" of technology they are today. Even as late as 2002, cell phones with cameras were not commonly found in the hands of consumers.

By 1997, small applications such as calculators and games (Tetris, for example) crept their way onto cell phones, but the overwhelming function was still that of a phone dialer itself. Cell phones had not yet become the multiuse, multifunction personal tools they are today. No one yet saw the need for Internet browsing, MP3 playing, or any of the multitudes of functions we are accustomed to using today. It is possible that the cell phone manufacturers of 1997 did not fully perceive the need consumers would have for an all-in-one device. However, even if the need was present, a lack of device memory and storage capacity was an even bigger obstacle to overcome. More people may have wanted their devices to be all-in-one tools, but manufacturers still had to climb the memory hurdle.

To put the problem simply, it takes memory to store and run applications on any device, cell phones included. Cell phones, as a device, until recently did not have the amount of memory available to them that would facilitate the inclusion of "extra" programs. Within the last two years, the price of memory has reached very low levels. Device manufacturers now have the ability to include more memory at lower prices. Many cell phones now have more standard memory than the average PC had in the mid-1990s. So, now that we have the need, and the memory, we can all jump in and develop cool applications for cell phones around the world, right? Not exactly.

Device manufacturers still closely guard the operating systems that run on their devices. While a few have opened up to the point where they will allow some Java-based applications to run within a small environment on the phone, many do not allow this. Even the systems that do allow some Java apps to run do not allow the kind of access to the "core" system that standard desktop developers are accustomed to having.

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