Mobile Web Browsers Have No Where To Go But Up

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.

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