HTML5 is already here (it's just not for desktops yet)

Original author: Michael Mullany
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When the squid feels threatened, it shoots with ink in water, hoping to confuse and disorient predators. Something similar is happening now in the Network arena. Adobe and Microsoft are telling us that HTML5 will come in 10 years. Apple tells us, “No, no, it's already here, right now, take a look at our great HTML5 demos (hmm, rather CSS3 + JavaScript)!”

The truth is that there is a split in the population of Web browsers. On the desktop, Internet Explorer and Firefox together occupy more than 80% of the market. There is virtually no support for the HTML 5 technology family in Internet Explorer, and Firefox is lagging behind in the implementation of CSS3. And, in any case, there is a huge database of installed IE 6, 7, 8 on the desktop - in particular, in enterprises - and no sane application developer will develop desktop applications for enterprises that do not work in at least IE7 Excluding innovative companies that deploy the latest editions of Firefox, Chrome, and Safari to their employees, HTML5 technology is doomed to fail.

But a completely different story on mobile devices. Product life cycles are much faster (people change their phone on average every 18 months), and technologically tablets, phones and touch devices practically live on another planet when it comes to their browser technologies. And this is because the browser, by default, on every device that is significant in the market, is based on Webkit.

And what's on the web now?

Those of us who monitor desktop browser development know that Webkit is an Apple browser rendering engine (originally born from the KDE browser of the KDE project (as glazs noted , KHTML is the Konqueror browser engine )), which was used by Google and then the Android team (branches at different points in time), as an engine for Google’s mobile devices. This was not very interesting earlier, but only this year two more events took place that made Webkit even more generally accepted. First, RIM announced that it will use Webkit as a rendering engine.for the next generation of its browser (surfaced this year due to unofficial gossip). Secondly, HP acquired Palm (with its WebKit-based browser as part of WebOS), and HP announced that WebOS would be at the heart of the development strategy for future HP tablets .

Now let's get back to saying “all devices that are significant on the market.” Android, iPhone, RIM together account for about 90% of smartphone app activity . And about 60% of the market for all devices. In our most recent study among Ext.JS developers (mainly focused on development for enterprises): only 10% of people who plan to develop mobile applications plan to make them available on non-smartphones.

What about other devices / browsers? Well, there Nokia is - important outside the US - whose browser technology (also based on Webkit) is making progress by developing its browser on Webkit to support the HTML5 platform, but with a strong lag (actually behind). And while Opera performs very well on the desktop, Opera Mini for mobile devices seems to have made an unusual choice from the point of view of architecture - to draw an image on the server side, sending proprietary markup to the mobile device.

That is the state of affairs, at least from my point of view. The HTML5 family of technologies is already here, in 2010, on all mobile devices that matter. A short life cycle means that the installation base will expand rapidly towards devices that support HTML5. And we must say thanks to the WebKit development teams at Apple, Google, RIM and many others who worked to get it now (and we hope that Mozilla Fennec will join the party soon!) We believe that the speed and capabilities of device browsers will soon become one of the main incentives for choosing mobile devices for the consumer.

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