NEW YORK -- According to Phillippe Winthrop, research director at Strategy Analytics, there are 172 million smart phones in use today, and that number will grow to 462 million by 2012. All of those users are going to want Web browsing capabilities, but what are browser vendors doing to support that demand?
In a session at the Interop trade show, Withrop was joined by Mozilla, Opera, ACCESS and Bitstream to discuss what they see as the future of the mobile Web. The panelists agreed that in some ways the mobile Web needs to be the same as desktop Web, though are some important differences and roadblocks.
"Carriers still think there is a mobile unique way of doing mobile like WAP (define)," Kiyo Oishi, chief operating officer of ACCESS Systems Americas said. "Generic open Web access is one application, but there should be more and there is a need to come up with mobile unique things. We think widget applications, instant mini applications are the new opportunity for mobile."
The move toward widgets for mobile devices is also one that mobile handset vendor Nokia is keen on, announcing their own strategy this week at the Web2.0 show also in New York.
For Mozilla, the mobile Web is something that will be an extension of their current strategy. "We believe in the one Web were people should not have to choose between a wireless and desktop version," said Chris Blizzard, mobile evangelist for Mozilla Corporation. "We can use same codebase as Firefox, so most public Websites support it. That compatibility is something we can take to mobile."
Blizzard noted that a lot of excitement in the mobile browsing space has been generated by the iPhone, and in general, the Web browser market is alive again. He added that Google Chrome, Google's new Web browser, is an indication that people think they can enter the market and still innovate.
Google's Android mobile platform, which is expected to debut this week, uses a mobile variant of Google Chrome.
Though Mozilla is keen to see a one Web approach, the reality is that it's not a one handset world. ACCESS Systems Oishi noted that we're not likely to ever have one screen size or dimension dominating the handset market.
"There will always be three or four screen sizes and that is a challenge of the mobile industry," Oishi said.