In an article triggered by RIM's acquisition of Torch Mobile and their WebKit based browser, CNET's Matt Asay argues that Apple has too much control over WebKit. Other companies relying on WebKit for their browser will basically be slaves to Apple's release cycles, and Apple will always control where WebKit is heading and optimize it for their own products.
So what is his solution to this suggested problem?
it would be nice to see a truly open-source project–open in source, and open to outside involvement–standardize the mobile browsing experience, too
In other words, he is echoing Symbian's call for a standardized browser for all mobile phones. …
I have previously made the case for bringing more browser engines onto the market, so I definitely agree with that part.
But recreating the desktop monoculture on mobile phones? That sounds like a terrible idea. Did we learn nothing from the problems of a single dominant browser, not only when it comes to designing for browsers rather than standards, but also the problem with a single point of failure for malware and viruses?
There are other obvious problems with his suggestion, such as what happens if the engine doesn't suit someone's needs and they need to fork it or create their own. They are definitely going to have a hard time with site compatibility, as we have all learned from the situation on the desktop.
No, we do not need a single dominant mobile browser or engine. What we need is a set of proper standards, so that anyone can create their own browser engine and have it work properly without having to emulate bugs and quirks in other browsers.
We should be working towards that, not towards bringing the Web to another grinding halt because of a single dominant browser/engine holding it back and making it extremely difficult to enter the market.