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Over the past couple years, mobile games–video games for cell phones and PDAs–have been positioned as a new killer app. Cool games, in theory, would drive people to buy cool phones, and spend buckets on subscriptions and data fees.

Today, that prospect gets better with news that Nokia and Vodafone are spearheading the deployment of a leaner, meaner version of the essential Java programming language. A less fragmented Java environment would mean not only smaller, less expensive phones, but a much more interesting array of entertainment services and games.

Of course, there’s still the question of who really wants to play these games to begin with. In Japan, the i-mode service has created a so-called “thumb culture” around portable, entertainment services, but we have yet to see such a phenomenon break out in the U.S.

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