iPhone JavaME Mobile mobile 2.0 mobileweb

Mobile Web Future Roadmap

I firmly believe that the roadmap for mobile web applications has been laid out for us by the likes of the Apple’s iPhone, Nokia’s N95, Google’s Android, Mozilla’s Fennec, and more others to follow.  Currently, designing for the mobile web is quite a chore. If you thought browser fragmentation was bad in the PC world, then the mobile browser space is quadruple that!  As mobile devices get better and the data plans get cheaper, and the browsers start to come together with the same feature set and compatible languages, the less headache it will become for web developers to transition toward the mobile web.

The iPhone Safari browser, Nokia, and Android all use the same web browser engine called Webkit.  Webkit is a revelation in itself. The full web browsing experience on the desktop now available on the mobile device. Mozilla’s Fennec is based on the same Mozilla Firefox engine and also allows for the full browsing experience.  Windows Mobile has Internet Explorer and its also starting to move in this direction. See a trend?  Yep. The days of WAP browsing are slowing being numbered. Its not going away anytime soon, but it eventually will.

Of course, as a developer, you will also be faced with a choice of developing a mobile native application vs mobile web application. That decision is not an easy one to make. There are so many platforms to choose from. iPhone, Windows Mobile, Palm, BlackBerry, Java ME, Flash Lite, Symbian, and the list goes on. This tells me that in order to get the most market penetration for your application, targeting the mobile web is the logical choice. However, there are exceptions. Gaming apps, off-line storage, and integration with phone hardware feature set are all compelling reasons to target your application to a platform as opposed to the mobile web.  What Apple should have done to make this decision easier was to integrate phone APIs into the Safari Webkit engine. Create a subset of XHTML tags or JavaScript objects that allow the mobile web app to tap into the PIM, camera, or other mobile device native function.

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