The ever shifting, dizzying world of mobile browsers. Getting the answers from Opera, RIM and Nokia.

July 6th, 2011 by

It’s not often that the developer community gets an opportunity to corner the OEMs and ask them to do some explaining. Yet, that is exactly what Jeremy Keith was able to accomplish with Nokia, Opera and RIM at Mobilism 2011, during a session focusing on mobile browsers. Apple and Google were (of course) MIA. And while their presence could’ve provided additional perspectives, I suspect the gist of the discussion would be unaltered.

Mr. Keith did an excellent job asking pointed and relevant questions. Unfortunately, the responses were largely unsatisfying – not inspiring much confidence that there is a clear and cohesive direction across the OEMs in regards to browsers. I found the discussions around zoom controls and content re-flow particularly interesting, as not only each OEM approached it from a different angle, some OEMs handled it differently depending on which version of the browser was used. These are exactly the types of things that cause some of the most baffling and frustrating problems with trying to create mobile optimized content that looks consistently good on a multitude of devices (yes, still true even if they limit the discussion to WebKit-based browsers).

Of course, the panel concluded with the usual upbeat message that it will get better soon as things get standardized… You don’t have to be a long-time mobile developer to have a déjà vu experience when hearing those words. Still, it was quite satisfying to see the OEMs face the music for once. And if nothing else, the discussion provided a broad, dizzying introduction into the complexities of accommodating the range of nuances across mobile browsers.

(See panel transcript, video and audio for more details)

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