Tag Archives: safari

Mobile Web: emerging or dying?

WAP was one of the big disappointments of the mobile industry in the late 90s. Mobile Internet would be enabled by WAP, that would allow Internet access adapted to the small screens and lower processing power of the handsets of the time.

Telcos invested a lot of money to deploy the first WAP infrastructure and first Mobile portals, only to find that the service was completely unusable: too many clicks, too slow. On top of that operators tried to peel the onion with a too high price for mobile data, as they benchmarked WAP data rate with the price per byte of SMS (outrageously high, in terms of Euro/Byte). The failure was such that WAP was renamed Wait And Pay by the users, and mobile operators did not recover their investment.

Since those days, a lot of effort was put by operators to create better Walled Gardens, with downloads (games, ringtones, music tracks, etc), video-streaming and other WAP applications. WAP still requires a significant amount of Interoperability Tests (IOT)  and WAP pages adaptation to guarantee applications will work. Usability and usage have increased, but still the penetration of the service is rather low (13%). Applications developed for Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Mobile, such as Google Maps, Gmail client or MobileTV Rich Media Clients have improved user experience, but still required important adaptation to keep up with the evolution of handset models

Only with the arrival of the iPhone and its Safari browser, Mobile Internet is beginning to show signs of success. As commented in previous post, 85% of iPhone users access the web from the handset, compared with a 13% of the overall market. One of the keys for this success is the performance of Safari rendering regular web sites. Such is the success of iPhone/Safari, that many mobile applications developers are seriously considering to drop any more native Mobile Application, and just focus on websites designed with mobile in mind.

As web based applications improve – and they have improved a lot; see Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube or AdobeTV -, and as handset browsers get more powerful, supporting JavaScript and Flash , there will be a bigger trend to write apps for these mobile browsers. Applications will work  similarly in the desktop and in handsets such as iPhone or Android. Furthermore the browser gives enough abstraction to avoid handset adaptations and porting applications to different mobile OS’s.

Is this the end of native mobile applications? Will mobile handsets connect to the Cloud sooner that PCs?

iPhone makes Mobile Web a reality

In a previous post, back in January, Google already advised that the traffic to Google from iPhones surpassed any other smartphone, even if iPhone accounts for only 2% of the worldwide smartphones. Nokia’s Symbian 63%, Windows Mobile 11% and RIM 10%.

M:Metrics confirms those findings based on a report of iPhone user behaviour during January 08. The percentage of users accessing the Web from their handset shows a staggering 85% for iPhone, compared to 58% of smarphones, and a mere 13% of the overall market. For access to a social networking site or a blog, the difference increases, with 50% for iPhone, 19% for smartphones and 4% for the market. Even for video the data is striking: 31% of iPhone users watched a video versus less than 5% average market.

These data confirm that iPhone and its Safari browser really represent a major improvement  for Mobile Web access compared to existing devices. Apple’s iPhone is delivering to the hype it created. Another proof is that, even if iPhone is only official in five countries (USA, UK, Germany, France and Ireland), traffic from iPhone has been detected from almost every country in the World.

Will Android will be up to the expectations too?

Surprise surprise! I got Safari on my desktop

By surprise, I found a Safari icon on my desktop after updating iTunes. My first reaction is “What! how can Apple use this malware-like tricks to push Safari?” So it is no surprise the complaints of Firefox boss, and the general condemn from blogs: VentureBeat, ReadWriteWeb, The Open Road

Once the initial annoyance fades away, curiosity comes in “anyway it is installed so let’s see how it works”. The first impression is Apple wants us to get used to his Mac look and feel. And it works, you feel like using a Mac, and I have to admit that I like it. Still, the fonts seem fuzzy in Safari when compared to IE7. Safari uses Mac OS X font anti-aliasing, while IE uses Windows native ClearType, and that is reason according to a report on Safari 3.1 on Windows in Ars Technica.

So, will I uninstall Safari? Well, why not keeping two browsers… Now I use Safari for Gmail and Google Reader, and IE7 for the rest: general browsing, on-line newspapers, banking, Amazon, YouTube, etc. I find useful to have email and RSS in a separated browser, and I can enjoy the cool look of Mac.  

Conclusion: Steve Jobs is so convinced of the excellence of Safari, that he has pushed it with an iTunes update regardless the adverse comments it would generate. Is that arrogance or self-confidence?

According to an NPD report “Apple’s Mac shipments grew 60 percent in February compared with the same period last year, while the entire market grew just 9 percent.”

Maybe it is just self-confidence.