The new HTML standard is part of a proliferation of challenges and opportunities that developers face today:
Browser Wars v2.0
Going back 10 years ago, Internet Explorer could claim 95% of the browser market (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Browser_wars). Today you have to include IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari to get past the 95% support mark (http://marketshare.hitslink.com/). And this only includes desktop browsers! Safari, the Android browser and Opera all have strong market shares in the mobile/tablet space.
New Form Factors
The proliferation of mobile and tablet computing doesn’t just add to the number of browsers. Developers now have to consider a wider range of screens (and viewer perspectives), keyboard alternatives, and touch interfaces. Power consumption provides a challenge as well. While we often think of the future web in terms of smaller mobile devices, we also have multi-monitor systems, large monitor systems and web-enabled TV devices to look at with varying sizes & pixel densities.
While corporate IT organizations used to rule the rate & range of adoption for new technologies, the technology market is being firmly pulled along by the consumer. This greatly increases the speed of technology adoption, and in turn has helped shift the technical expectations of societies – our customers are becoming more sophisticated.
Uncertainty in the Browser Plug-In market.
Adobe Flash has dropped direct mobile support, and it seems like Silverlight has seen it’s last major release (although it will be supported through 2021). Windows Mobile will be headed to a new (WinRT) platform as well.
Browser Version proliferation
Windows XP still has a huge market share, and it won’t run IE 9. In fact IE10 won’t run on Vista either. If you thought you had problems getting customers to hit the “upgrade” button to get off IE6, imagine the work it will take to get them to buy a new OS, or more likely a new computer, to move up to IE 9. Paul Irish has a great article discussing the implications.
The Rate of Change
The idea of Internet Time definitely applies to the browser market…or at least two of the major browsers. In the last year Firefox has moved from version 4 to 11, and Chrome has moved from up from version 9 to version 17. We have a new set of Internet Explorer experiences coming up with IE 10 as well.
The changes brought on by mobile & wireless communications going beyond the hardware and browser: new customers are being engaged, frequently in parts of the world that did not have a heavy usage in the wired Internet world. Browsers are being considered as a serious platform for an increasing set of applications. Google Maps was an early example of the amazing power browser-based apps provide, with questions being asked about the use of the browser as a commercial gaming platform, education medium, and all around “Internet of Things” beyond our current conventional browser-based expectation.
So what is a developer to do?
Next blog we will talk about some of the benefits of web-standards based development and how it can help you capitalize on these opportunities.