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There are technologists which believe that for many users and business professionals that the web browser will become the primary base platform for application software. Computer Education Techniques staff and technology partners will be evaluating that assumption. At the current time, it would be more accurate to characterize the current generation of web browsers as strategic software:

  • In relation to its role as a front end connection to the Internet and cloud computing.
  • As a first line of defense in a security subsystem.
  • In its utilization of protocols for presentation of content.
  • For accessing and transferring data.
  • As an extensible component to an organization's existing information technology infrastructure.
  • As a development platform.

The gray shaded cells indicate FOSS: Free Open Source Software.


Web Browsers
Workstation, Agents, and Thin Clients
Microsoft Open Source Apple
Internet Explorer / Edge Mozilla Firefox Safari
  Google Chrome  
  HTML5  
 
Other Web Browsers (> 5%)
Opera Amazon Silk Flock
  RockMelt  
Mobile Devices
Apple iPad and iPhone Microsoft Phone and 10 Devices Google Android-based Mobile Devices
Apple Proprietary Software Microsoft Proprietary Software Open Source Architecture
 
Mobile Device Operating Systems and Strategic Integration
Apple iOS Microsoft Phone Google Android
iOS and Apple Mac OS X Microsoft Windows 8 RT to 10 Google Chrome
Big Cat and Mavericks to Yosemite and El Capitan Microsoft Windows 10 IOT: Internet of Things

Intel Corporation and Nokia:
MeeGo Platform replaced by Tizen.
Smartphones and Mobile Devices webOS: Hewlett-Packard
and LG Electronics
Jolla Sailfish Tablet Computing Devices Mozilla Firefox OS

Web Browsers

Web browsers do not have an identical featureset; information, content, and data will not be displayed uniformly. This issue is becoming more pronounced as the focus of information technology innovation is shifting from hardware to web-based apps. Adoption of wireless network device browsing, in conjunction with the use of Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices in public hotspot locations, continues to grow at a rapid pace. Industry studies indicate that are now over one trillion Internet-connected devices in public hotspot locations.

The leading commercial web browsers have been Microsoft Corporation's Internet Explorer and Apple Corporation's Safari. The Safari web browser is an important component in the presentation and quality control with the Apple computer iPod, iPhones, and iPad apps. Open source Mozilla Firefox growing popularity to a significant degree contributed to Internet Explorer's decline from a 90% market share. Google Corporation was instrumental in the increased acceptance of Firefox; it provided both funding and invitations for free downloads from its Google homepage. Reviews of the Google Chrome web browser have been positive and its market share has been steadily increasing. It's growth is being driven by web app development on its open source Android operating system.

Most major browsers currently use Google as their default search provider. Mozilla continues to utilize the search engine in Firefox after announcing an agreement in December 2011 that will extend their partnership for at least three more years. Opera Software has entered into a new agreement with Google. The Opera browser will continue to use Google search as its default. The deal contains a number of benefits for both Google and Opera as they extend their business relationship. Compared to Google’s mobile Chrome browser, the Opera Mini, due to its suitability with the operation and presentation requirements for smartphones and mobile devices, can be installed on significantly more devices than any other competing browser.

Microsoft is phasing out its Internet Explorer web browser; the replacement is the Edge web browser. The rebranding is a part its MS Windows 10 operating system software overhaul. Internet Explorer will continue to exist only for compatibility issues and MS Edge will become the default web portal for MS Windows users. Google Chrome is the most widely used web browser in the world and Mozilla Firefox also has wide use. MS Internet Explorer once overwhelming market share has decreased to approximately 30 percent. This dramatic change reflects Microsoft inability to expand and become a leader with its phone and tablet mobile device operating system platforms. The MS Edge web browser will take an entirely different approach from Internet Explorer and that it will be available on all of Microsoft operating system devices and concentrate on security and privacy.  In 2018 MS Edge was made available for installation on Apple and Google Android devices.

The Amazon Silk web browser comes loaded in the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet; it divides and segments computational tasks between a local computer and the cloud. The assumption is that Amazon will be extending Silk for extension beyond loading books onto Kindle tablet devices.

Flock and RockMelt are open source niche web browsers which have been developed based upon the Web 2.0 standards; their interface has been optimized for efficient social networking. Both have negligible market share.

HTML5 represents the next significant phase in the progress of the world wide web. HTML5 provides the capability to develop web applications which are visually rich and comparable to the native applications that are designed to run on a specific device such as an iPad or an Android-based tablet.The major web browsers have been reengineered and upgraded for HTML5:

  • Apple Safari embraces HTML5's video-playing feature as an alternative to Adobe's Flash player.

  • Google Chrome is a leader in HTML5 development.

  • Mozilla Firefox includes support for HTML 5 technology.

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer has been updated and optimized to run HTML5.


Mobile Device Operating Systems

In terms of volume, the Google Android operating system platform is the leading mobile operating system. Samsung, with its vertically integrated business model, is the leader in marketing smartphones based on the Google Android operating system. The initial version of Google Chrome open source operating system was released in the second quarter 2011.  It has had negligible market impact, has received indifferent technical reviews, and clearly is a work in progress.  There are indications that it will be repositioned for utilization in Internet-based content delivery and digital content. The Apple iOS operating system runs the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad, and the 2nd and 3rd generation Apple televisions.  Apple continues to unify its iOS and Mac OS X ecosystem: apps, interfaces, and data. This strategy started in the third quarter of 2011 with its Lion operating system. The user interaction with the Macintosh desktop and laptop operating system is being made to act more like an iPad. The iOS and Mac OS X operating systems share the Darwin core and multiple frameworks. This strategy has continued with Mavericks and Yosemite operating sytsems on its Wintel Mac personal computing platform.

Microsoft released MS Windows Phone in the fourth quarter 2011; it also was available as a free upgrade for older Windows Phone 7 phones. MS Windows Phone's smartphone installed market share remains small. Windows RT, known as WOA, is available pre-installed on PCs and tablets powered by ARM processors. It enabled new thin and lightweight form factors with extended battery life. Windows RT included touch-optimized desktop versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Google Android and Apple iOS remain the leading operating systems; each platform has significant hardware and intellectual property advantages that have wide acceptance. As of the third quarter 2015, MS Windows shipped on less than 3 percent of smartphones and has continued to lose global market share since acquiring Nokia’s handset business. Microsoft has failed to turn the Windows Phone operating system, which runs on its handsets, into a vibrant alternative to iOS and Android. To generate more interest from developers, Microsoft has designed Windows 10 to run on PCs, smartphones, and other devices and promote cross platform app development. Under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft made the decision to make Windows free on devices with screens smaller than nine inches, a category consisting mainly of smartphones and tablets, along with some laptop-like products. It now has versions of MS Office applications for Android and iOS and is revising its strategy to concentrate on the broader mobile business.

MeeGo is a Linux-based open source mobile operating system project. Primarily targeted at mobile devices and information appliances in the consumer electronics market, MeeGo was designed to act as an operating system for hardware platforms: netbooks, entry-level desktops, tablet computers, mobile computing and communications devices, in-vehicle infotainment devices, SmartTV / ConnectedTV, IPTV-boxes, smartphones, and other embedded systems. MeeGo was canceled in September 2011, in favor of Tizen. Samsung has merged a portion of its operating system research with the Tizen project. The assumption is that Samsung will be introducing phones running the Tizen operating system. It will be sold in partnership with national mobile operators.

In August 2011, Hewlett-Packard terminated its flagship webOS-based TouchPad tablet following poor sales. The webOS platform is considered a viable mobile platform, but supported only HP software and the scarcity of applications was a major shortcoming. Most developers prefer to work on Apple's iOS or Google's Android because both are used on millions of devices. In 2012, Hewlett-Packard made the decision to turn webOS into an open source, non-hardware specific platform. The assumption is that HP will be evaluating whether and how to challenge Android. Up through mid 2013, manufacturers that wanted to participate in the smartphone and the tablet markets were forced to either write their own operating system or adopt Google's Android platform. An open source webOS would provide hardware companies with a way to diversify their device lineup and reduce their dependence on Google. By sharing webOS with the open source community, HP retains ownership and revamps the webOS while having a fallback position. According to Hewlett-Packard executives, the company may get back into the consumer tablet market, but it will not be making any more smartphones. From a practical standpoint, the webOS mobile operating system has negligible market share.

Jolla Sailfish is an open source Linux-variant mobile device operating system intended for utilization with smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and other devices. It is based on the MeeGo Mer core base. There will be an accompanying SDK: software developer's kit. Sailfish is supported on ST-Ericsson's NovaThor platforms. The business model includes availability on multiple chipset technologies. In addition to Jolla-brand smartphones, Sailfish is promoted as being available to handset manufacturers for use on their own hardware.

The Mozilla Foundation has released a Firefox smartphone operating system. The goal is to provide handset manufacturers with an operating system to be used in an inexpensive phone. The Firefox operating system smartphones provides a web browser, architecture for sending texts and e-mail, and camera support. Apps on the Firefox OS will be developed in HTML5.


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