This is what happens when I see something interesting on Twitter/LinkedIn and find myself hard-pressed to ignore it. Oh well, let’s fan the flame a bit on this discussion:
App-centric viewpoints and the “_blank_ is dead” meme really needs to end. Much of the commentary on mobile is barely even half a decade old in terms of experience, let alone experience. Those who’ve been in it longer have a different viewpoint – and mainly because they’ve watched not just the mobile web (WAP, iMode, portals, web views, responsive design, etc.) evolve, but because they understand that the web is a channel, not a destination. Looking at “browsing” as a metric for the health of a transport layer is silly, or at the least be slighting to the rest of the things packets do on mobile.
The “mobile web” will continue to evolve in context and usage. We can wait until JS makes touching the device hardware normal, except in those *leading* smartphone platforms – or actually point to avenues where aspects of the web-as-infrastructure that will continue to be a part of not just applications (web view doesn’t make it an app, does it, oooh contentious point), but an essential thread to the services that major and minor players need in order to have some measure of success (VoIP is a mobile web tech just as much as its pure(ish) telecom; what about HTTP streaming, mobile web tech too, just multimedia focused).
Bend your brains out of the PC-browser paradigm, and look towards those applications and regions who have been doing this a lot longer than Google/Apple have been “leading” the charge. You might find that browsing was never that big of a slice anyways, and JIT is the context that needs to be paid attention to more than whether people fired up a standards compliant viewer or not.
Seriously, its not that hard. It matters to browser vendors only as much as they care to be faucets for the stream of content that’s placed online. If you are a developer, you shouldn’t be caring here unless the content and the browser are better ways to deliver the stream than what you can build. And if that’s the case, then probably your opportunity and energies need to be focused elsewhere. If you are a web developer, you need to optimize, and pay attention to the context of use that a browser on a mobile sits in (this varys by economic and culture group). If you are going to target the browser, do something that makes it worthwhile – else, just find a wrapper (PhoneGap, Sencha Touch, etc.) and play the app store games.
Still waiting for that evolved sense of “we know what’s going on here” in the mobile space. Its been nearly a decade and a half, why are we running over these tired memes over and over. Sheesh…