Symbian: Monopoly is good

John Forsyth, VP of strategy at Symbian, seems to think that browser monopolies are good for you:

One target browser covering most of the world's phones is a good thing.

Considering the lesson we learned with IE, this sounds odd. What about all the people who are not using that browser? Then again, Nokia probably wouldn't mind having the mobile browser market all to themselves. …

People at Nokia have in fact previously called for a mobile browser monopoly. What's interesting about this is that they cannot possibly be unaware about the reality of software forks. Even if your browser is based on WebKit, that doesn't mean that all phones running this core will have the same capabilities. A lot of people will be using old versions, and I'm sure Nokia doesn't want to be at the mercy of Apple's release cycle forever, so there will inevitably be forks.

We already have Apple, Nokia and Google using different forks of WebKit. Will they all return to Apple in the end and let Apple run everything? Or will they start out with WebKit and end up with several different WebKit-based browsers moving in different directions because these companies realize that they can't have one company dictating the direction and development of everyone else?

In a followup, the Nokia bloggers make another puzzling statement:

The base web standards are not evolving much any more

The people at Nokia are surely not unaware of all the on-going work at W3C and other organizations, are they? And they are surely not unaware that the Web stagnated in large part due to the IE monopoly, and that only now, when competition is heating up again, things have started to move in the right direction again?

If there's something the past has taught us, it's that monopolies stifle innovation, and software will be forked when major companies disagree on the direction.

No, Symbian, Nokia and other people and companies who think that monopolies are somehow good: What we need is not a software monopoly. What we need is not encouraging Web developers to target specific browsers. What we need is a proper implementation of standards in all browsers as an encouragement for Web developers to save money by writing their code once instead of implementing the same thing several times.

Implementing standards correctly is is very hard to do, but it's the only right thing to do. And the sooner we can rid ourselves of the IE legacy, the sooner everyone can spend more time working on actual standards and less time working around quirks in specific browsers.

Let's not start the cycle all over again by trying to tie the Web to one specific implementation.

Let's go for open standards.

(Thanks to Investor for the first link.[/url])

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3 thoughts on “Symbian: Monopoly is good

  1. Anonymous writes:Of course this all ignores the nokia webkit fork dates to the era of Safari 2 (which is probably the era of opera 8 or some such) so stating that standards don't make much progress now (even if it were true) is failing to account for 3 years of development in the standards world *sigh*

  2. The people at Nokia are surely not unaware of all the on-going work at W3C and other organizations, are they?

    Yes they are aware, Nokia was one of the driving forces to get Ogg Theora and Ogg Vorbis out of being a requirement for the video element in HTML5. Given Nokia's support for H.264, this approach makes sense as it allows them to continue making money off H.264 rather than providing support for Ogg. At least Opera and Firefox will support Ogg.Nokia has a position paper available in PDF form on Ogg available at http://www.w3.org/2007/08/video/positions/Nokia.pdf.

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