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April 11, 2013

Mobile Devices to See Big Rise in HTML5 Compatibility in 2013

A new report from ABI Research suggests that the numbers of mobile devices containing a browser compatible with HTML5 are poised to skyrocket by the end of this year, rising fully 87 percent to a grand total of 1.4 billion devices total. This suggests several significant developments afoot for the mobile industry, prompting some to think of 2013 as "the Year of Hybrid."

According to the reports, the rise in HTML5 is set to come about thanks to a whole new way of using the Web, at least for mobile devices. Driven by a combination of browsers integrated directly into operating systems and hardware support at the chip level, HTML5 is likely to rise as a way to make Web apps improve in terms of speed, responsiveness, and overall user experience. The rise of browsers like the Firefox OS, as well as Ubuntu, Sailfish and Tizen. are all likely to help drive that HTML5 compatibility. What's more, some look to the eventual convergence of Android and Chrome to help drive HTML5 adoption rates.

That's definitely a lot of impetus toward HTML5 in mobiles, but it only picks up from there. Intel has been seen with some projects related to mobile and HTML5, Samsung has been spotted working with Mozilla on the upcoming Servo browser engine that will likely give HTML5 a lot more ground, and some, like Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst with ABI Research, believe that bringing in a "truly ground-up mobile browser could certainly ease the bottleneck that currently holds back the mobile Web."

Take all these facts together, and what becomes clear is that HTML5 is getting a lot of extra room to operate. With more browsers offering support for HTML5, that's more users that such a service can reach. With more users able to actually use HTML5, in turn more developers can get into the fray and bring out products and services geared toward HTML5 users.

This is where a crucial tipping point starts to appear. With more mobile devices capable of using HTML5, and thus capable of getting in on WebRTC, that's going to be more people wondering why they need a mobile provider at all. When these users can simply open a browser to launch a Skype-style voice chat--or even a video chat--the question will likely be posed on several fronts about why a voice plan is even needed any more. Mobile providers may well find themselves getting out of mobile voice and text messaging plans in favor of pure mobile data provision, but this is likely to require some significant retooling to ramp up the system in the style that it would need to be in order to accommodate that much extra bandwidth demand.

All implications aside, one thing is quite clear: HTML5 is coming, and it's gaining rapidly on several fronts. Will device makers, users, and mobile providers be ready for the change? Or will there be only a few clear winners? Only time will tell just how it all shakes out, but the future looks like it's about to be a very different place.

Edited by Jamie Epstein
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