Browsers are Going Mobile

By Matt Hines  |  Posted 2005-12-25 Print this article Print

"Because the Web is standards-based, well see a lot of different people competing into the space and all the competition will keep things interesting."

One of the biggest trends that will undoubtedly shape the browser industry over the coming years is the increased adoption of mobile devices that can be used to access the Internet, and therefore carry browsers, such as so-called smart phones.

While Microsoft is creating its own mobile version of Windows and Apple has licensed some of its browser technology to handset maker Nokia Corp., some experts believe that the challenge of creating an application that works on handheld devices will change the appearance, and potentially the market, for browser technologies.

Nate Root, analyst with Forrester Research, said that a whole range of companies could see their names become more closely linked with the browser market as new devices demand different types of applications.

The analyst said that it probably wont be new players youll see winning in the mobile browser space, but he believes there will be some interesting companies competing on non-traditional devices—such as Macromedia, now owned by Adobe Systems Inc.—who will see their prospects grow with wireless Net adoption.

Apple plugs critical Safari browser flaws. Click here to read more. "Flash has been around forever, and people think they have a pretty good idea of what Flash is for—for downloading content or building a Web site," Root said.

"But one of the very cool things that Flash and Macromedias Flex platform can do is build interactive applications that are distinctly non-Web-like, but that you can adapt easily to the size of the screen that you have."

"Some of these companies like Macromedia will hit their stride, and someone like Mozilla will have to decide if they want to maintain a mobile native version of their browser, or if anyone cares about that."

Whether or not the browser continues to be the visible framework through which people view the Web, or if it becomes something less noticeable that simply facilitates execution of other online applications, Root said that much development remains to be done if vendors expect large numbers of customers use mobile Internet services.

Root believes that in reality, there will be gradual progress toward less obtrusive browsers that allow people to input and view information more effectively, just as the technologys inventors might have imagined.

However, as long as large volumes of information are accessible by todays browser applications, he maintains that todays tools will stick around.

"There will be new ways to create rich applications experiences that are native to the Web, but that dont require browsers to run, and that will be the way of things going forward, with more transparent Web-enabled platforms," said Root. "The bottom line is that there will be incremental change and that there will probably always be some sort of browsers."

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