Google says mobile browsers will soon be dead

By | May 16, 2008

How many of you connect online using mobile phones? If you did, you would find that many websites (and I mean many), would render in less than a satisfactory manner over a mobile phone. This has been always a problem with mobile phones and the Web. Well, Google recently announced that every mobile phone manufacturer will do away with browsers that only work with mobile phones – within a year.

What was that all about? In an interview in London, Google’s mobile engineering director, Ann Mei Chang said, “Within a year, you’ll see all manufacturers having full browsing capability, at least for the high end phones. This will be a turning point for the industry.” So that means you and me will be able to surf the Internet and view it just like we do on a PC? That’s good news, if it happens as predicted.

But then again, this is probably more to do with Google pouring a lot of effort into the mobile phone market – think Android. Google has been developing Android as a serious contender, but basing much of the framework on Open Source technology, as opposed to the Apple iPhone, although Google still gives the iPhone credit for moving the whole mobile phone industry forward.

One of the things that came to my mind is how would the .mobi domain extension fit with these developments? The .mobi TLD was introduced as an extension to accommodate websites that want to optimize for mobile phone surfers. But .mobi was introduced in late 2005, at a time when technology was just trying to fit websites on mobile phones. A .mobi is meant to feature mobile phone optimized sites.

So if mobile phone technology has progressed to the point where we can view the Web with ease over a mobile phone, do users still need a separate .mobi to surf online?

Google also announced that they’re working on a mobile version of Google Gears, which is a bundle of Web applications that are able to run without Internet connection. I remember I did blog about this concept back here, and it’s cool if you can actually “run” a website without an Internet connection. Google now sees mobile phones as one of the main platforms in running offline web based apps, and they are really into this.

Basically, speed is what Google is after. If you can browse a site by downloading less applications, than your web surfing experience would of course be faster. Hence any mobile phone Web surfing would need to rely a lot on caching. So if Google is right on the money, we’ll soon all be surfing away on our mobile phones, without even realizing the only difference between a desktop and a mobile phone is basically – a matter of size.

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