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Summary:

As InformationWeek recently reported, mobile web browsing is a market with a substantial amount of upward growth potential.  More and more mobile phone customers are swapping their ‘dumb’ phones for smartphones that feature mobile web browsers and other data-centric applications. There are many mobile web browsers […]

As InformationWeek recently reported, mobile web browsing is a market with a substantial amount of upward growth potential.  More and more mobile phone customers are swapping their ‘dumb’ phones for smartphones that feature mobile web browsers and other data-centric applications.

There are many mobile web browsers featured on various smartphones, but which are worth the most attention?

Let our round-up give provide you guidance.

WebKit based browsers:

WebkitWebKit is an open source application framework that was originally taken from Konqueror browser’s code base.  Many popular web desktop browsers today are based on WebKit technology including Apple’s Safari, OmniWeb, Shiira, and others.  Additionally, many mobile browsers are also based on WebKit including Nokia Series 60 browser and Google’s Android platform.  WebKit is known for being a W3C standards based and exceptionally fast browser.  In recent months, development on WebKit has been focused on making WebKit increasingly faster in rendering webpages.

Opera Mini

Opera has long been a force to contend with in the desktop browser market.  Opera is known for delivering a compact, feature rich browser that is quick and responsive.  Their mobile browser is a Java based application, meaning it can run on a wide array of mobile phone platforms.  Opera Mini boasts a full web experience, an included RSS reader, and synchronization with your desktop computer via their Opera Link application.

Opera Mini 4 has made strides to take on Apple’s Safari browser and its sexy user interface.  The mobile application allows you to view pages in landscape mode, offers native BlackBerry menus on BlackBerry devices, and enhances web content for small screens.  Opera Mini makes it known they support CSS to further situate their browser offering as a natural extension for web content to the mobile screen.  Opera Mini 4 requires a download from their Opera Mini homepage.

Apple’s Safari Browser

Safari iconApple has made a huge splash in the mobile world with the introduction of the iPhone. Being able to harness the iPhone’s revolutionary touch interface, Safari has redefined the users perspective of the mobile web.  Apple’s Safari is different than many mobile browsers in that it doesn’t try to reformat web content for the mobile screen.  Instead, Safari renders the entire webpage and allows users to zoom in using a very intelligent and slick double-tap motion.  Safari also supports AJAX, bringing native functionality to Gmail, Google Reader, and other AJAX-intensive applications.

Because of the iPhone’s market dominance, many mobile services and websites have written custom websites to take advantage of the iPhone’s touch interface and capabilities.  Additionally, Safari allows tabbed browsing, a popular feature among users.  Like Opera Mini, the iPhone features a landscape view for wide-screen viewing of websites.

Mozilla.org’s Minimo Browser

MinimoThe Mozilla Foundation, the organization behind the wildly popular Firefox desktop browser, is bringing a mobile web browser to market.  Hoping to capitalize on the adoption of Firefox, Minimo is currently in beta at version 0.2.  Currently only running on Windows Mobile 5.0, Minimo runs on Mozilla technology and features:

  • support for today’s web standards (javascript and AJAX)
  • tabbed browsing (like Safari)
  • RSS Reader
  • Social bookmarking via Del.icio.us
  • Widget and Extension support

Minimo is being marketed as an alternative to the native browser that Windows Mobile includes, similar to Opera Mini.  While fans of Firefox will likely install Minimo to try it out, the secondary browser faces an adoption challenge.  Many proponents of Firefox advertise the browsers’ support of extensions. Minimo’s support of extensions will be a driving force for those who wish to have this functionality.

As you can see, the mobile web market has plenty of competitors, ensuring competition that will give users a continued attractive mobile experience.

Which mobile web browser do you use?  What features do you most enjoy…please chime in below in the comments.

  1. Opera Mini is the true leader here. I won’t buy a phone now unless it can run it.
    If I were Mr Jobs I’d buy Opera a close it down as their browser is the iphone killer for me.

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  2. Just wanted to highlight that Firefox 3, a modified desktop version, will appear on mobile internet devices based on Intel’s Moblin/Atom soon. Many of these devices will be 3G/voice enabled too and could offer mobile web workers are real desktop-grade mobile option. Basically, you’ll be getting the full browser in an E90/Advantage/Universal type form factor and as time goes on, these will merge right into the smartphone market.

    Its an emerging area but one for mobile internet users to really watch carefully in 2008.

    Nice overview of the browser options there though i’d add NetFront, Silverlight, Opera Mobile and Skyfire as options to think about.

    Cheers
    Steve
    UMPCPortal.

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  3. Deepfish has been really great to me. I’ve used it for about a year now. I think it is very fluid and lightyears better than IE mobile on a Windows Mobile phone.

    http://labs.live.com/deepfish/

    twitter.com/ericatkins

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  4. [...] anyone happen to know if the Minimo project is still going? I saw it mentioned in a post over at Web Worker Daily this morning and decided to go check it out. Somehow this one slipped under my [...]

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  5. [...] April 17, 2008 at 7:34 AM PT Comments (0) More smartphones means more mobile browsers, and Web Worker Daily has a rundown on several, including the latest effort from Mozilla, the guys behind the wildly popular Firefox [...]

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  6. “wildly popular Firefox desktop broser”

    should read “browser”.

    also its worth mentioning that ‘Apple Safari’ is based off of the Webkit engine.

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  7. oh nm u do mention that, my fault.

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  8. The most powerful mobile browser I’ve seen so far is Skyfire. It will render practically anything, any flash, javascript, you name it. I’m in the beta now, and it’s not without it’s flaws (can’t edit multiple lines of text, can’t copy and paste, etc), but the horsepower is impressive.

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  9. Of all the mobile browsers I’ve tried over the years, by the far best is Safari on the iPhone/iPod Touch. Windows Mobile does not have much to choose from at all. Opera Mobile is the best I’ve tried so far (can’t find a JVM for WM5, so the free Opera Mini isn’t an option.)

    Minimo is promising, but development is painfully slow. Minimo .2 is slow and unstable, and sucks up just about all available memory to run. I would love to see some development on Minimo, which has been stalled at .2 for close to a year now.

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  10. I’m sorry but this is kind of lame. You missed a lot here.

    1. Mozilla’s Minimo is NOT the mobile browser Mozilla is working on. They said that over and over again. They stopped working on it, it was an experiment on how things could work.
    The mobile browser Mozilla’s working on is called “Mozilla Fennec”.

    2. There are at least two projects I know of that try to get Webkit to the browser:
    http://www.torchmobile.com/
    http://www.wake3.com/

    If you’re doing an overview of mobile browsers, do your homework. Articles like this are something I’d expect from Techcrunch, not GigaOm.

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  11. “There are many mobile web browsers featured on various smartphones, but which are worth the most attention?”

    As amazing as Opera Mini is, it’s not a smartphone browser. It’s a normal mobile phone browser. Opera ASA’s smartphone browser is called Opera Mobile. It’s only been released for Windows Mobile, S60, and UIQ, to be sure, but Android releases are planned. Blackberry and Palm users can only use Opera Mini, true, but hey, the iPhone can only use Safari.

    Minimo is in preliminary development, there hasn’t even been a beta. Opera Mini at least has a 4.1 beta, although Opera Mobile 9.5 has no beta out yet.

    Also, why exactly does Safari not fall in as part of the WebKit category? Because it supports AJAX? Opera Mobile has had that for 2 years, in addition to things like Flash, which the iPhone Safari doesn’t have.

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  12. Oh, and that’s right, it’s not called Minimo anymore, it’s called Mobile Firefox. (Technically Minimo did have a beta–two, actually–but the project was shut down four years ago. What I meant was that Mobile Firefox doesn’t have a beta yet.)

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  13. Your article reminds me that I need to make sure that my web site is mobile ready as well, because so many people are using (and searching on) mobile devices. Your next article should be about getting a blog ready to be mobile ready.

    =)

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  14. morange is a very good web browser it has an in built chat and email service and also has a web talking facility

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  15. [...] Jason Harris on Web Worker Daily has a good rundown of the mobile web browser market – Mobile Web Browsers Have No Where To Go But Up. [...]

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  16. ‘Nowhere’ is one word.

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  17. Opera Mini is the best right now.
    Do you know if mozilla has plans to implement minimo on Symbian?

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  18. [...] Mobile Web Browsers Have No Where To Go But Up WebWorkerDaily, CA – Apr 17, 2008 As InformationWeek recently reported, mobile web browsing is a market with a substantial amount of upward growth potential. More and more mobile phone … [...]

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  19. Actually, it’s a little unfair to compare Opera Mini to browsers for smartphones. The interesting and amazing thing is that lots of people still say it’s their number one browser.
    And I have to say: it’s mine as well.

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  20. [...] make the surfing experience on your mobile device suck just a little less…We’ve covered the state of the browser market for the mobile web, but what if you’re on the production side of the equation? Wirenode, who bill [...]

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  21. [...] Mobile Web Browsers Have No Where To Go But Up [...]

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  22. I can say….i m using pre-paid line, so, if I want to use 3G, EDGE or GPRS connection for browsing on my N82, I will use Opera Mini coz it took less KiloBytes means less money being cut-off my credits. But whenever i use wifi connection, I will choose the built-in s60 os9.2 web browser coz it shows better images and capabilities :)

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