Mobile browser market taking off

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The mobile browser market is currently "transforming" and sophisticated web browsing software will be installed on 1.5 billion handsets by 2013, analysts predict..

ABI Research said that a growing number of smartphones incorporate browsers which support the latest capabilities such as Ajax and RSS.

The analyst firm expects this market to account for the "vast majority" of growth over the next five years.

ABI predicted that the mobile open-internet browser segment will grow from 76 million browsers delivered in 2007 to nearly 700 million in 2013.

"The focus today for mobile browser developers is to take advantage of the latest web standards while developing solutions tailored to the unique experience of using a browser on a mobile phone," said ABI director Michael Wolf.

"The most recent commercial solutions from Opera, Openwave and Access, as well as those using open source solutions such as Webkit, allow consumers to access content on the web without limitations due to browser constraints."

Wolf added that it is important to note that, despite the best efforts of browser vendors and handset manufacturers, web usage on mobile devices has a " significant distance" to go in closing the gap with PC-based browsers.

"The absence of important plug-ins such as Flash on many handsets, and the constraints of many phones compared to the PC, mean that even open-internet browser vendors such as Skyfire continue to see a need for server-assisted architectures for transcoding and web acceleration," he said.

"The move towards web-based applications means that browser and web services engines will become increasingly important for mobile, whether in a commercial browser implementation or a customised widget.

"Ultimately, the long-term trend away from native applications to web-based applications means that browser and web services engines will be increasingly important components in the mobile environment."

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