The evolution of Web standards and implication for innovation










I am at SIIT Berlin and will try and post a few blogs on this theme.

Recently the evolution of Web standards and their implication for innovation is becoming an important discussion point

Here’s why:

1)    Web standards are evolving to HTML5. Here, the standardization process becomes more complex – for example the need to handle multiple devices such as mobile devices, management of IPR and the interplay between Open source and Open standards.

2)    The Cloud now has a key role to play and that role also impacts all standards including Web standards

3)    New organizations like Open Web Foundation also address web standardization in addition to W3C

4)    Policy makers in individual countries are having to balance the issues of standardization versus innovation

5)    The Web is now deployed on a range of device form factors like Tablets and book readers. These devices have different needs and processes for standardization

6)    The browser now has to contend with new content types (like books and music)

7)    The lines between hardware and software are being blurred and this affects standardization and innovation

Firstly, let us consider what’s at stake:

The Web and the Internet had been one of the most revolutionary innovations over the last decade. We know that the Internet has already transformed our life in the last decade. The question is: How will the Web and the Internet evolve in the next decade?

I explore these questions below with some insights

1)    The Internet, as we know it today, has been possible because of a commercial compromise. In the Next Internet, what is holding it up, the author points out that: Nothing we do on the Internet today would have been conceivable, let alone feasible, had these corporations never decided amongst themselves. Similar negotiations and compromises took place, often involving IPR, between various players of the GSM standard before the standard emerged and with it the economic benefits of an ecosystem

2)    As we stare into the spectre of a double dip recession and the International labour organization predicts massive jobs shortfalls especially in the West, policy makers the world over are looking for ways to create new jobs and new economic growth. The EU holds its first ever event on innovation in December 2011 along the lines of the Digital Agenda and the question of innovation, standardization and IPR are intertwined because the Web is a platform and hence a catalyst for growth. But going forward, as the ‘Web meets telecoms’ and other devices (like sensor networks), it will need to balance IPR and incorporate IPR into standards.

3)    We are also at the cusp of the fifth computing cycle. Mary Meeker says that we are at the cusp of the fifth computing cycle and that mobile devices will surpass PCs and other wireline devices. Many people, including me, have long been discussing this ‘cross over’ and its implications.

4)    Finally, Open source hardware will be a key driver to the next wave of innovation. Chris Anderson even calls it the ‘next industrial revolution’.

So, all of the above makes me feel that we are fighting last decade’s battles and ignoring the opportunities and challenges in front of us.

So, here are my thoughts on where we will evolve to:

1)    The distinction between Web standards, Open source and proprietary platforms is blurred: Web standards could act as tools for generation for multiple platforms including proprietary platforms: This idea sounds radical but not so. Nitobi, the darling of the cross platform community (and I am a fan!) already work this way with phonegap. Phonegap recently announced support for the mango platform in addition to iPhone, Android and others it already supports. Thus, the mobile cross-platform application development framework uses JavaScript APIs to use Windows Phone Mango features like: Access Device Information, Add and search Contacts etc. So, we have here a mix of Web standards(phonegap), Open source(platforms for which it generates code) and proprietary standards(iPhone, Mango etc). All co-exist and developers support the platforms.

2)    When Open source meets Web standards, the results are no longer one dimensional: Both Open source and Open standards are polymorphic phrases. However, whichever way you look at it, their amalgamation is non trivial. Nick Allott wrote an excellent blog in context of webinos, which I summarise here and link to the original blog – Open Source – Sustainable development – a synopsis – which shows that Open source platforms have many motivations and are not necessarily as altruistic as the Web is designed to be i.e. available to all.

3)    Computing is not going away –it’s just hiding behind the Cloud .. (gigaom). Gigaom put forward this idea and I summarise/ extend it as below

a)    The device itself becomes low value and a conduit (soon it may come free in a box of cornflakes as someone in the

industry said ..)

b)    The value lies in connecting the dots

c)    Embedded / transparent connectivity(a profitable pipe) will be the future of operators

d)    Brand/content will focus on the end to end superior experience (Amazon for books – Apple originally for music etc).

In this case, the Cloud changes the game

 4)    Innovation at the core of the web will more complex than innovation at the edge: The Web, as we know has always innovated at the edge. But at some point, it will need to innovate at the core. This is more complex and controversial. Companies like Google have proposed spdy  which changes the nature of http and browser specific optimization ex for Chrome (We will strongly encourage Google developers start off targeting Chrome-only whenever possible as this gives us the best end user experience. ….  ) . Ultimately this will lead to ‘Optimised for Chrome ..’ or ‘works best with Chrome’ – that cannot be a good thing for the Web ..

5)    As hardware meets software, the boundaries are blurred. I propose that this world will get more complex – especially in areas such as hardware optimization of javascript.

To conclude, I started with the question of – How web standards will evolve over the next decade.

I think it was Napoleon who said that all his generals are ready and perfectly suited to fight last year’s war! Implying that next year’s battles will be different from last year’s.

It appears that we are also oriented to fight last decade’s battles for the standardization of the Web. The only conclusion is: the next decade’s battles will be different and more complex than last decade’s as I illustrate above.




Mobile mindshare: strategies for exploiting mobile web and applications for customer conversations By Ajit Jaokar and Nick Allott

All marketing is now dominated by two trends: Marketing is  becoming social and also Marketing is becoming  influenced by mobile devices.  Qs is: How can brands gain customer mindshare in this scenario?  Earlier this year, I announced that I will be working with Nick Allott on a new book and I am happy to announce the first of our two books.

Mobile mindshare: strategies for exploiting mobile web and applications for customer conversations By Ajit Jaokar and Nick Allott is all about using the mobile device to gain customer mindshare.

We address a simple question: If you have a business and you want to formulate a mobile strategy, what should you do to maximise customer mindshare?

After a long wait, the mobile era is well and truly upon us. But the age of mobile payments is still a year or two away. Instead, the mobile device has now become a ‘must have’ ingredient for interfacing with your customers, simply because most customers are accessing your site from mobile devices (including tablets)

This book first looks at what is mindshare (the customer behaviour) followed by customer touchpoints. We take a holistic view of the customer interaction and thus the customer touchpoints include: Mobile Web, Blog/wordpress, Twitter, Facebook, Google/SEO, Mobile apps(iphone, android, Blackberry and Nokia), Foursquare and Google Plus.

The real value lies in the connections between these touchpoints when linked to mobile devices i.e. using the ability to integrate and connect the dots between all of the above (which is the theme of the book)

We next discuss the Mobile Web and Mobile apps ecosystem including cross platform strategies (ex phonegap) and then the Principles of mobile experience and mobile design.

With this background, we can now discuss the core theme of this book i.e. how to maximise mindshare using all the customer touchpoints based on a mobile strategy i.e. connecting the dots

Finally, customer touchpoints would not be complete without the content, specifically content curation.

The book is based on live deployments of our apps

If you wish to know more about the book or it’s related workshop, please email me at ajit.jaokar at

Mobile Web influencer interview – C Enrique Ortiz

Following Dan Appelquist’s interview, I am very pleased to present the next Mobile Web Influencer interview – Good friend and industry guru C Enrique Ortiz

Even in this brief interview, I really like the way in which Enrique defines webapps in terms of design philosophy!


1) What do you think is the biggest reason you are optimistic about the mobile web?
The adoption of the WebKit browser-technology ( across mobile device vendors is one of the main reasons I am optimistic about the mobile web. Having the major vendors focus on a single, advanced, browser baseline implementation translates to consistency across such devices, which directly benefits developers who can now focus on creating great design, apps, and content vs. dealing with inter-browser inconsistencies. The WebKit has proven to be a killer platform, which I hope is going to continue to be adopted by others, if not by all, major device and browser vendors. Again, enable developers to be able to create/write great webapps and maximize their ROI and the result is more quality mobile webapps.

2) Which web technologies are you optimistic about?
The WebKit, HTML5, HTML Canvas element, SVG, the power of JavaScript and CSS3 transforms and media queries – all are going to play a key role in the advancement of awesome mobile webapps.

Another area is what many of us have touted for years — the importance of secure access to device capabilities (using a consistent way/set of APIs) from within the browser or “web runtime” as a very important capability that is going to enhance the mobile experience. In the meantime, developers have to continue rely on Hybrid applications (native applications that wrap WebViews) as a way to offer the best of both worlds.

Last but not least, another area I am optimistic about are the new mobile web developer tool-kits such a jQuery Mobile, Sencha, PhoneGap and others, that are playing a very important role by helping developers in the creation of great mobile webapps across browsers.

3) Who, in your view, is a thought leader for the mobile web?
There are a number of great leaders in this space. Some are “old-timers” from the days of WAP (circa 2000), and who have seen the whole evolution to today. These are folks who lead by example and are awesome; James Pearce, Jason Grigsby, Brian Fling, Bryan Rieger and Mike Rowehl to mention a few. Then there are Evangelists such as Dan Appelquist and Ajit Jaokar, also to mention a few. More recently, folks like Luke Wroblewski, and traditional Web designers (what I call the new generation) are now embracing mobile webapps and bringing a lot of value by leading and educating others.

4) What does the mobile web lack and how is that gap being bridged?
The two major technology gaps today are lack of consistent browser technology across devices (from iPhone to Microsoft) and complete and consistent access to device capabilities.

5) Which areas/domains will the mobile web extend to in the near future?
I see the inclusion (and standardization) of the Augmented Reality (AR) technology within the standard browser, as a new domain for mobile web. This is enabling the browsers to support this new kind of (very exciting) application interactions natively. This means standardizing how to define and publish the AR resources, discover and consume such AR resources, render such AR resources, and how the user interacts with such AR entities, all browser-based, all cross-browsers. The AR space then becomes mainly a content-space vs. technology-driven as today.

6) What is the biggest gap/concern for developers (w.r.t. mobile web)
In my opinion, the biggest gap today for mobile web developers is around design philosophies for mobile webapps.  For example: many traditional web designers and developers are now embracing mobile, but are focusing on specific platforms (typically iPhone and Android) and bringing traditional web into mobile. But mobile is special, not only at the platform-level, but on the user experience, and it requires special attention.

7) Can you expand on this mobile webapp design gap?
While it has greatly improved over the recent years, there are many issues to address such as how to handle the different handset characteristics, screen sizes, orientation, browser support, and how to create a mobile webapp that works (adapts) properly. Many developers today are focusing their apps on the iPhone and Android, but as many of the thought leaders I mentioned above will say, that is not proper; a proper design will address and should work across most if not all mobile devices. For this, mobile web designers and developers must familiarise themselves with design concepts that include device-detection, device adaptation either server-based or client-based, and graceful degradation (or progressive enhancement). The goal is for the less-capable devices to degrade nicely into more basic behaviors and features while at the same time, allowing for the most advanced devices and browsers to provide the maximum experience possible by maximizing the capabilities of HTML, JavaScript and CSS.

Note my use of the word mobile webapp in contrast to mobile websites. That is another important design philosophy, as a mobile webapp is not the same as a mobile website, yet for many, both developers and customers, mobile web still translates to mobile websites. Due to the characteristics of the mobile handset, specific application-flows (vs. websites) are more appropriate for the mobile user experience; such specific flows are what I refer to as mobile webapps. These are well-defined, very focus and mobile-specific/enhanced application flows. These mobile webapps are standalone, or part of a larger set, and can be pushed or discovered independently.

About C. Enrique Ortiz

How would the Internet of things look like if it were driven by NFC (vs RFID)

As NFC catches momentum in Europe and North America, I have been thinking of yet another gedankenexperiment :

How the industry would shape up if the Internet of things were driven by NFC?

To understand this, we have to break down the concepts.

Internet of things

Firstly, Internet of things is a concept driven largely by academia so far.

There are several partially overlapping definitions: (source Wikipedia)

Casagras:[5]: “A global network infrastructure, linking physical and virtual objects through the exploitation of data capture and communication capabilities. This infrastructure includes existing and evolving Internet and network developments. It will offer specific object-identification, sensor and connection capability as the basis for the development of independent cooperative services and applications. These will be characterised by a high degree of autonomous data capture, event transfer, network connectivity and interoperability

SAP:[6]: “A world where physical objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, and where the physical objects can become active participants in business processes. Services are available to interact with these ‘smart objects’ over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

ETP EPOSS:[7]:”The network formed by things/objects having identities, virtual personalities operating in smart spaces using intelligent interfaces to connect and communicate with the users, social and environmental contexts

CERP-IoT: [8]:”Internet of Things (IoT) is an integrated part of Future Internet and could be defined as a dynamic global network infrastructure with self configuring capabilities based on standard and interoperable communication protocols where physical and virtual ‘things’ have identities, physical attributes, and virtual personalities and use intelligent interfaces, and are seamlessly integrated into the information network. In the IoT, ‘things’ are expected to become active participants in business, information and social processes where they are enabled to interact and communicate among themselves and with the environment by exchanging data and information ‘sensed’ about the environment, while reacting autonomously to the ‘real/physical world’ events and influencing it by running processes that trigger actions and create services with or without direct human intervention. Interfaces in the form of services facilitate interactions with these ‘smart things’ over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

Other:[9]:”The future Internet of Things links uniquely identifiable things to their virtual representations in the Internet containing or linking to additional information on their identity, status, location or any other business, social or privately relevant information at a financial or non-financial pay-off that exceeds the efforts of information provisioning and offers information access to non-predefined participants. The provided accurate and appropriate information may be accessed in the right quantity and condition, at the right time and place at the right price. The Internet of Things is not synonymous with ubiquitous / pervasive computing, the Internet Protocol (IP), communication technology, embedded devices, its applications, the Internet of People or the Intranet / Extranet of Things, yet it combines aspects and technologies of all of these approaches.

If we identify the common elements for IOT then:

1)      Objects should be uniquely identified

2)      They should be network enabled and hence objects can be queried and activated remotely

3)      Services enabled through such ‘smart objects’ will be co-operative

In addition, some other notes for IOT

1)     The original idea of the Auto-ID Center is based RFID-tags and unique identification through the Electronic Product Code. So, IOT is tied to the idea of RFID/Barcodes

2)     IOT is different from ambient intelligence / pervasive computing / ubiquitous computing which are ideas designed  such that machines modify their behaviour to fit into the environment instead of humans forcing humans to change their behaviour.

3)     There is an alternate view of IOT which is fulfilled by making objects web addressable and that means the object has an agent in the cloud and objects can communicate in the cloud without directly communicating with each other. Ipv6 has a role to play in this space ie if objects become internet addressable

4)     IOT systems will be event driven, complex (ie not deterministic)

5)     But the most important consideration for IOT is the scale: IOT aims for trillions of objects which will lead to billions of parallel and simultaneous interactions requiring massively parallel systems

The uptake of NFC

The original concept for IOT came from the RFID ecosystem. NFC could be seen to be a subset of IOT. NFC is compatible with RFID and the main difference is the range. Also, RFID started with supply chain, asset tracking etc and NFC with transportation. So far, RFID has not become ubiquitous as a technology. But NFC is on the verge of a major uptake in Europe and North America. NFC has applications in access control, access control, consumer electronics, healthcare, information exchange, coupons, payments and transportation.  Thus at an application level, NFC and RFID are comparable.

The uptake of NFC in EU and North America is driven by various factors:

a)     Three different constituencies are driving NFC  - credit cards(visa), telecoms(SIM), Web(Google wallet, paypal)

b)    NFC will show an initial uptake through interactions(informational type requests) and a portion of these could be transactions

Analysis for IOT

As we have seen before, the various definitions of IOT have some common elements. But let us imagine what IOT would look like if NFC were the driving technology

The key requirement to fullfill the true potential of IOT is the scale. Now, if NFC takes off then most of the requirements for IOT could be fulfilled except the scale of interactions. This means, the more emergent/ complex services for IOT may not emerge (at least initially) with NFC but still NFC will be useful.

In addition:

a)     If mobile devices will take up NFC, then we are likely to see more A2P (application to person – ex payment) rather than person to person services. This is good because it provides an initial use case and then as more devices and objects become NFC enabled, more complex use cases will emerge leading to network effects

b)    Hence, the larger scale vision of IOT will not be realised unless you achieve  large scale standardization and interoperability. In the West, I do not see governments attempting this level of standardization. Which makes NFC very significant because much of the promise of IOT will be achieved through NFC but without the scale

c)     Japan, South Korea,Singapore and ofcourse China could achieve standardization in their respective countries. That could achieve scale / IOT vision within their local geographies

d)      China is different since it is a large scale market in addition to a creator of technology. So, internally within China, a lot could be achieved which will add value especially considering the emphasis in China based on the Chinese premier Wen Jiabo’s vision that: Internet + Internet of Things = Wisdom of the Earth.

e)      Can China influence standards? This is a more complex and perhaps a non technological question. But the observation I make it – the rate of uptake of NFC will mean that in the west a parallel ecosystem will develop based on NFC which will mean that influencing standards on a global basis may not be so relevant as a competitive advantage.

Conclusion :

I suspect that NFC will achieve much of the goals for IOT but not on scale but we may see scale in specific geographies where governments can influence standards and achieve interoperability. We saw the same with Korea and Japan for mobile ecosystems. Both achieved high mobile growth within their respective geographies but could not translate it into global uptake.

I also find the alternative view of IOT(that of making objects web addressable) interesting especially when tied to the Cloud

In any case, I love studying ecosystems and IOT will be very interesting ..

The Mobile Web influencers list

Earlier this year, I asked if 2011 was the year of the Mobile Web and following that I announced a few weeks ago that I was compiling a curated list of Mobile Web influencers (The Mobile Web influencers list – the background). This list took a while to create, but finally here it is! I would like to thank Daniel Appelquist @torgo for his help with the list

Some notes

1) This is a curated list. I have tried to keep it purist in terms of a Web agenda. See my views about the Mobile Web from the links above.

2) The balance between companies and individuals was not easy. Where possible, I have tried to include individuals rather than companies.

3) Similarly, the inclusion of consortia and bodies was a separate category.

4)  Finally, I added some people who I personally thought were influencers to my thinking plus especially for the future (for instance @webofthings)

We will also have interviews – and the first one from Dan below

Many thanks for all the help and I hope you find it useful

You can follow the list at - twitter list for Mobile Web Influencers and on peerindex list of mobile web influencers

The list below and following it is the interview from Dan

Mobile Web Influencers – People

@ppk Peter-Paul Koch

@ppk Amsterdam, Netherlands
Mobile platform strategist | consultant | writer | conference
organiser and speaker | blogger | trainer | browser compatibility

@firt Maximiliano Firtman

@firt Argentina
Mobile & web developer. Author, Speaker, Trainer. Forum Nokia Champion and Adobe Community Champion. Author of Programming the Mobile Web, from O’Reilly. HSS.

@twhume Tom Hume

@twhume Brighton, UK
Brighton Mobile Scrum UX Agile Aikido

@torgo Daniel Appelquist

@torgo London
American expat; Londoner; Vodafone R&Der; @W3C Web/Social standards, @OneSocialWeb; @MoMoLondon, @overtheair, founder; speaker; writer.

@mtrends Rudy De Waele

@mtrends iPhone: 41.401575,2.166520
Entrepreneur, Mobile Strategist, Business Angel, Speaker. Co-founder, AppCircus, Mobile Premier Awards, Mobile 2.0 Europe, MobileMonday Spain

@kiwanja Ken Banks

@kiwanja Currently Aspen, Colorado
Mobile technologist. Anthropologist. Conservationist. Tech Awards Laureate 2009. National Geographic 2010 Emerging Explorer. Founder: @FrontlineSMS

@russellbuckley Russell Buckley

@russellbuckley Munich and London
A mobsesssive, a blogger, a writer and seeker of the New New

@eortiz Enrique Ortiz

@eortiz Austin, Texas
Mobilist — for fun and profit: strategy, software, author.

@jamespearce James Pearce

@jamespearce US, Belize, India, Ireland, UK
DevRel @ Sencha. And living the mobile dream.

@bryanrieger Bryan Rieger

@bryanrieger Edinburgh, UK
design, devices and distractions… EDI, LHR, BKK

@lukew Luke Wroblewski

@lukew Silicon Valley, CA + the Web
Digital product design & strategy guy in Silicon Valley, CA. Author of Web Form Design & Site Seeing. Currently CPO and co-founder of Bagcheck.

@grigs Jason Grigsby

@grigs Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Mobile Web Strategist, Co-Founder of and, Co-Author of Head First Mobile Web available Winter 2011

@hollobit Jonathan Jeon

@hollobit Daejeon, Korea
관심사 – Mobile 2.0, mobileOK, Mobile Services, Augmented Reality, Social Web & Future Web, Web Application & Web App Store, Web Standardization, W3C/OMA/ITU-T

@jorabin Jo Rabin

@jorabin London

@yeswap Dennis Bournique,

@yeswap San Francisco
Mobile web blogger

@edent Terence Eden

@edent London
I make the interwebs go mobiletastic. I’m a long haired geek: Dr Who, Star Wars, Ubuntu. Developer for @Dabr @wpmp. All tweets ©

@jeffsonstein Jeff Sonstein

@jeffsonstein Rochester, NY 14620
IT prof @ RIT, mobile tech junkie, old hacker.

@robinberjon Robin Berjon

@robinberjon Paris
Standards, Politics 2.0, at times Vociferous Hired Gun

@stephanierieger Stephanie Rieger

@stephanierieger Edinburgh/London/Bangkok
Mobile web, UX, technical writing, design, books. Mostly based in Edinburgh.

@ricmacnz Richard MacManus

@ricmacnz Petone, New Zealand
Founder & Co-Editor of This is Richard’s personal Twitter a/c. You can also follow the professional Richard (and his team mates) @RWW.

@sarahintampa Sarah Perez

@sarahintampa Tampa, FL
Writer for tech news site, syndicated by NYT, obsessed with mobile. Google Voice: (813) 377-2545 / Email: sarah AT readwriteweb DOT com

@brianleroux xnoɹǝʃ uɐıɹq

@brianleroux iPhone: 49.276150,-123.126800
I’m a free/open source software developer at Nitobi working on top secret things and not so secret things like PhoneGap, XUI, Lawnchair and WTFJS.

@fling Brian Fling

@fling Seattle, USA
creative director at @pinchzoom, author of @oreillymedia Mobile Design & Development, father of @pennyfling

@miker Mike Rowehl

@miker San Francisco, CA
16th level Hacker

@AjitJaokar Ajit Jaokar


@beep Ethan Marcotte

@beep Cambridge, MA
Designer, developer. Started that whole “responsive web design” thing. “Eight? Who taught you math?”

@adactio Jeremy Keith

@adactio Brighton, East Sussex, England
An Irish web developer living and working in Brighton, England.

@scottjehl Scott Jehl

@scottjehl Boston
Web designer. Filament Grouper. jQuery Mobiler. Co-author of Designing with Progressive Enhancement. Reluctantly tweeting a bit more lately…

@scottjenson Scott Jenson

@scottjenson Palo Alto, CA
Creative Director, frog design (ex-Apple/Symbian/Google)

dalmaer Dion Almaer

Dion Almaer
Dion Almaer technologist and human dev aggregator
robinjewsbury Robin Jewsbury
Robin Jewsbury
robinjewsbury Robin Jewsbury Make your own mobile apps from your own content at, no tech knowledge required-works on most phones. Robin is the founder of
London Web Standards
webstandards London Web Standards Monthly London meetup for people who are passionate about the web. Check our site for videos from our events, and details of the next meetup.
brucel bruce lawson
bruce lawson

brucel bruce lawson Opera web evangelist (but tweets are personal, not Opera); co-author of Introducing HTML5; web standards lovegod. Guinness-drinking, kickboxing poetry freak.

@dontcallmedom Dom Hazael-Massieux

Dom Hazael-Massieux

W3C Staff, French, working on new gen of Web technologies and doing Software development; co-author of “Relever le défi du Web mobile”

@nallott Nick Allott
Nick Allott
Technologist and Strategist. Things I am/have been involved in: webinos, W3C, WAC, BONDI, fastmobile. Specialisms: Venture capital, open source, IPR standards

Companies and Organizations

@EricssonLabs Tor Bjorn Minde

@EricssonLabs Sweden
Open Innovation, APIs, new tech, mobile apps, content, communication, maps, 3D, location, NFC, sensors, web tech, html5, graphics, machine learning, security

@w3c W3C Team

@w3c MIT | ERCIM | Keio University
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential.

@webinosproject Webinos project

Webinos @webinosproject
An EU-funded project aiming to deliver an open source platform for web applications across mobile, PC, home media (TV/set-top boxes) and in-car devices.


Web Foundation
@webfoundation Boston, MA, USA
Advance the Web to empower people. Learn more and find out how to get involved!

Web of things

Web of things blog


Interview with Dan Appelquist @torgo

1) What do you think is the biggest reason you are optimistic about the mobile web?

I’m optimistic about the mobile Web because it’s going away. What I mean by that is The mobile Web is now ubiquitous and it’s mass market. If you take into account emerging form factors such as tablets, then it’s fast becoming true that the Mobile Web is just becoming the Web.

2) Which web technologies are you optimistic about?

I am bullish on device APIs these days. I’m very excited about the w3c geolocation API that we had a hand in. Geolocation in the browser was first released on the mobile and (predictably) has had a huge impact on mobile Web applications, particularly social applications. The geolocation API success story now needs to be replicated for other APIs – accelerometer, camera, calendar, etc… This work is going on in W3C right now and hopefully will bear fruit soon. It’s all about making the Web a richer platform for developing applications and creating great user experiences.

3) Who, in your view, is a thought leader for the mobile web?

I think the Mobile Web has a number of great thought leaders and I’ve suggested many of them for your list. The nature of the Web is that it is multi-polar and so you cannot really point to one person who has led the way in the Mobile Web space. I do think @jamespearce deserves some special respect for being a participant in and follower of standards (particularly the W3C work on Mobile Web Best Practices) and putting that into action through real-world coding projects that have made a huge impact on the experience of the mobile Web (such as the WordPress Mobile Pack).

4) What does the mobile web lack and how is that gap being bridged?

Tools. Tools. Tools. We need more high-quality tools for Web developers and designers that fit the mobile platform and allow developers to use progressive enhancement and “mobile first” design techniques more easily.

5) Which areas/domains will the mobile web extend to in the near future?

Device APIs is the big growth area right now. We’ve already seen how the (w3C) geolocation API has transformed the use of location on the Web with social applications like Twitter and Facebook being the most aggressive adopters. Emerging device APIs will allow access to the camera, device data (such as address book contacts but also things like roaming status), and other sensors such as accelerometer. This will open up new opportunities for Web developers to create more immersive experiences that leverage the rich capabilities of mobile devices.

6) What is the biggest gap/concern for developers(wrt mobile web)

Discoverability and monetization of mobile Web applications is a big concern. Right now developers rightly perceive that putting their applications into app stores, promoting them and selling them through these app stores is their best route to customers and revenue. Advertising platforms for mobile Web apps are not mature enough yet. The mobile Web does not have the equivalent of an App store. These issues need to be addressed if the mobile Web platform is going to thrive. Part of the problem is inconsistency in how these Web apps are presented to consumers. Web developers need to be consistent about applying the “thematic consistency” principle that we developed in the Mobile Web Best Practices group. This principle is as relevant today as it was five years ago when we developed it. Web sites should adapt the presentation of content appropriately to the device.

You can find those mobile Web best practices at along with the more recently developed
“Mobile Web Application Best Practices” (useful for targeting more advanced
mobile browsers):

The Mobile Web influencers list – the background

I have long been an advocate of the mobile web and specifically w3c web standards and the vision of One Web.

In one sense, this view can be seen to be idealistic in an era dominated by the iPhone and other technologies.

However, the ethos of the Web has a longer lifetime than commercial successes of specific products in the medium term.

Earlier this year, in a post jointly authored by Dr Nick Allott, I asked if 2011 was the year of the Mobile Web. In that post, we argued that the Mobile Web has a specific meaning in terms of Open standards and that increasingly the future of the Mobile Web will be intertwined with that of open source.

The viewpoint that the Mobile Web will dominate Mobile apps (or vice versa) is sexy and gets a lot of coverage. But as we say in the post, the revolution, when arrives, will not be tweeted i.e. it will be a quiet revolution

Indeed, one could say that the revolution is already here and many would not agree that the Mobile Web, in 2011, is an increasingly dominant paradigm.

This brings us to the Mobile Web influencers list.

The original idea came to me simply because I wanted to demonstrate that there is a world in mobile beyond the native apps and that it is growing at a fantastic pace.

Also, that the world of mobile web is driven by the work of many talented individuals who are doing some great work in this space

The original tweet I posted a week ago asking for #mobileweb #influencers got some immediate feedback. Among the suggestions, a small group of names kept reappearing. To this these names form the core group in the list. To this, I will add names of people who I personally know and also people and companies shaping the future of the mobile web – for example – in the domain of the Internet of Things such as @Webof things which I highly recommend

The Mobile Web has come a long way and indeed it has a long way to go and this list could be a small community effort to highlight it’s significance

So, suggestions and comments welcome.

I would like to thank @torgo and @bryanrieger for their help in the suggestions.

We will also feature interviews with the influencers on this blog

While this is a human curated list, i.e. by me :) , I am not using a specific metric such as peerindex. Instead, the objective is simply to create a list which is useful for the community.

In the next post, later this week, I will list the names of the individuals who are influencers for the mobile web. It will be a ‘living list’ and I will update it regularly.

Image source:

Report – HTML5 Will Disrupt the Mobile App Market

Research: HTML5 Will Disrupt the Mobile App Market

The research firm Smith’s Point Analytics says in a new report that HTML5 will disrupt the mobile application market and mobile Web application platform vendors are well positioned to seize the opportunity. Smith’s Point Analytics estimates that mobile Web application platforms will generate almost $2.6 billion in service revenue by 2015. These platforms, which enable Web developers to create mobile applications using HTML5 and JavaScript, could grow revenues at a 114% CAGR from 2010 to 2015.

The venture capital community is taking note of this emerging opportunity and has risked over $35 million financing multiple vendors to develop their offerings and business models. “Vendors are taking different approaches to serve Web developers by creating diverse architecture to streamline application development. The ability to sell developers on the right approach will be paramount to success,” says Peter Crocker, founder and principal analyst at Smith’s Point Analytics.

Three primary drivers will propel the growth of mobile Web applications:

1) The increased performance of Web applications enabled by HTML5 and innovative development architectures that put Web app functionality on par with native applications.

2) The large pool of Web developers available to leverage their skills and new tools to create a growing number of rich mobile Web applications.

3) The ability of Web applications to run across multiple mobile operating systems.

Among other disruptions, the application distribution model will change drastically as robust applications will be increasingly
available on the Web in addition to OEM-controlled app stores. This changing dynamic will provide new opportunities within the ecosystem to gain power and influence and social networking players will be big winners. The business model also changes as the revenue streams generated from app stores diminish, causing platform vendors to turn to value-added services to generate income.

Related to this, Zeewe who I have blogged about before, announced that in only three months, the Zeewe appstore has reached 300,000 users

webinos – the vision explained in a simple video

I have been a part of the Webinos consortium and this simple video encapsulates a (very complex) vision. Feedback welcome

Note that the significance of webinos lies using the WEB (widgets) for interconnecting platforms

Zeewe – the world’s first third party HTML5 appstore?

I was chairing Mobile Web and Mobile apps yesterday at CTIA and we had a presentation/panel about a new (maybe even the first?) HTML5 appstore called Zeewe from Fabricio Bloisi CEO of the Brazilian company Movile.  Although I was very tied up due to the chairman role at Mobile Web and Apps, I am always interested in the evolution of HTML5.

What exactly is an ‘HTML5 appstore’?

Essentially, it is a way to package and deploy rich web apps and create a commercial ecosystem around it through a billing provider.

‘HTML5’ is a moving goal post as well know but at least some of the components are stable  and they apply to apps – for instance richer UI, offline storage etc. To that, if you add billing, you create an ecosystem aka a web based appstore.

All the pieces exist but have not been put together  coherently before and this could also apply to both feature phones and smart phones on any device which has a mobile browser

Hence, the strategy is interesting

In 2 weeks of the beta version, the Zeewe store already reached 100,000 visitors – of which 10,000 installed and used the Apps daily. Billing is done through the micropayment provider Mozca

Zeewe is currently available on iPhone, iPad, Android and iPod

I like the focus on HTML5 rather than the current third party appstores which combine many technologies

I will follow this in more detail when I get back online after CTIA

Is 2011 the year of the Mobile Web apps?

By Ajit Jaokar – futuretext and Nick Allott of nquiring minds

With January almost over now and conferences like Mobile World Congress and CTIA upon us, here is a thought.

In the age of Mobile applications, will 2011 will the year of the Mobile Web apps?

In this document, we outline the reasons why and welcome your comments.

Some initial terminology,

  • We refer to apps on specific technologies like iPhone, Android, Blackberry as native apps and we call apps using web technologies as ‘Web apps’ (more on this below)
  • By Mobile Web, we also include widgets – not just browsing.
  • By Web technologies, we mean w3c technologies but more importantly for our discussion, there are a set of emerging web technologies on the horizon such as – CSS2.1, CSS3, SVG Filters, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora, Native JSON, MathML, Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG), Cross-Site XMLHttpRequest, Microformats, Web Worker Threads (source Mozilla)

Native apps vs Web apps

Native apps have four key advantages:

  • Discovery
  • Revenue model (appstores)
  • Device APIs and
  • User experience

In contrast, for the purposes of our analysis we consider a web based application environment as:

A development environment using well understood, standardised web based technologies for creation of fully fledged applications.

We shall use the following working definition for web based applications:

•          Applications that can run when not connected to the web

•          Applications that can be packaged and distributed, again without assumed connection to the web

•          Application which can make full use of the device capabilities and APIs available on the device

•          Applications that can take full control of the devices UI – and are not rendered with the pre-configured chrome of another application.

•          Applications which can effectively run background processes and present a good user experience to the end user.

•          Applications which insulate the inherent risks of API access with robust security model

Many companies are already developing these models and indeed existing web technologies like HTML4 can also be used to create useful apps

Web technologies have some key advantages for applications:

IPR unencumbered: First and foremost, the specifications on which the web is based are designed to be unencumbered by IPR. This has two immediate positive commercial knock on effects. Firstly, it removes the immediate and absolute requirement to pay licensing fees to proprietary technology owners. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it does not bestow any core strategic advantage onto any single company.

Synergies between Open Source and the Web: A partial consequence of the lack of essential IPR on the core technology is that it is easier to create open source assets for. Or, perhaps, it is easier to state the inverse for the Web: it is very difficult to create an viable open source project for technologies on which there is known IPR that may be asserted (simply because there is then an implied liability). It is no accident then that the web ecosystem have been influenced, if not entirely dominated by open source projects such as Mozilla, Webkit and Apache

The Web as a platform: The existence of this public, usable assets, proves a boon to commerce, in that they may be picked up and used by people interested in using the technology, thereby reducing development costs, reducing maintenance costs, and freeing up technical and commercial resource to focus on more differentiation areas, with respect to their competitors. The Web then becomes a platform fulfilling the vision of Web 2.0

Public roadmap: Unlike a proprietary product, the web technology space, whether it is innovating within the W3C forum itself, or within one of the co-dependent open source projects, is fully transparent. This meant the roadmaps, over a reasonable time frame, are fully product. When dealing with device companies (whether mobile, pc, automotive, or home media), their commercial planning horizons are a considerable way out. A public transparent roadmap is clearly a positive thing from this perspective.

Low technical barriers to entry: It is a fact that web programming is easier to get into than more typical native application programming (that typically requires C, C++ or Java skills). Learning basic declarative HTML tag representation, upon which you can slowly build with easily experimental Javacript programming, gives a much softer entry into the programming world. Further, HTML and Javascript as interpreted languages, mean that for a new developer to get started all they need is a working web browser and a text editor. Contrast this with the complex compiler tool chains required to get native development environments up and running.

Although, you could debate that beyond a particular level of sophistication (when you start using complex Javascript libraries, object-orientated techniques and asynchronous programming)whether these differences still exist,  web based technologies mean that instead of being “thrown in the deep end”, you can paddle around in the shallows and immerse yourself slowly, and at you own pace, to the more esoteric programming depths.

Large skills base: The corollary of the above point is that there is a larger skills base for web programmers than native developers. It is hard to find definitive figures to back this statement up, but it would be conservative to estimate that HTML/javascript programmers outnumber Objective C programmers by at least a factor of 10

Large asset base: The near ubiquity of the web, the fact that almost every corporation and organisation has a website, and increasingly now, even individuals means there is massive amounts of content “out there”. To support this content, and strong ecosystem of tools and development applications has emerged (both proprietary tools and open source). The net effect of this, is that any developer looking to create web application content is well supported

Quick to develop for – and faster time to market: Another implication of the simpler technology, and tools base, is that typically web based content can be developed quicker than native content. This has important, valuable time to market implications for application developers and device manufacturers

Easy to deploy: Finally, to complement the development issue, web content typically needs only hosting on a website and is generally instantly downloadable and executable. Although, this process does not obviate the need to do testing on the web application content, it does typically mean that both initial deployment cycle, and subsequent maintenance updates can be issued more efficiently and fluidly than their native application counterparts.

Against these advantages, we have some drawbacks for web application development frameworks

Slow progress on roadmap and new features: One of the inevitable disadvantages of taking technical innovation and feature development out of the hands of a few people in a single company, is that decision making slows down. Consensus is a powerful force, in terms of garnering full industry support around a direction, but can be painfully slow to arrive at.

Remnants of fragmentation: Web technology is infinitely less fragmented than the disparate native development technologies, however, this does not mean that things are perfect. From and application developers perspective, the idiosyncrasies of the browser or runtime base they are using can unleash a myriad of minute problems that need addressing on a case by case basis. The four principle rendering technologies, (Webikit, Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft), whilst all ostensably supporting HTML, have minor difference in the detail of the implementation. These discrepancies fall into two main types

Bugs/lack of consistency in the support of older, legacy technologies such as HTML4

Differences in timing of implementation of the newer and more innovative features

Slow performance: Finally, it is important to understand that Web technology, to date is an interpreted technology. That means the code is expressed in human readable text and that the browser engine, must process this real-time whilst it is executing. (Contrast this with compiled technologies which pre-process the code from the human readable form into a machine efficient representation, optimised for performance.) This means that, web technologies are almost always slower than native development technologies.

Moore’s law, has meant that for a majority of applications, the difference in performance is irrelevant. There are subclass of application, however, those typically requiring high performance and good graphics, such as games, that are currently outside of the web application performance threshold.

But things are changing. The increased use of Just in time JavaScript compilation technologies and the new webgl technologies will make even this distinction narrow in the medium term.

Two resources for tracking these implementation inconsistencies are: quirksmode and Acid3 tests

Evolution of the Web and it’s implications for mobile devices

What does this mean going forward?

When I (Ajit) first spoke about the principles of Mobile Web 2.0, I used to jokingly say that it should be ‘Web Mobile 2.0’ i.e. the web dominates since it often evolves faster than mobile and has a wider reach than mobile

So, if we take a holistic view, then we can see that the evolution of the Web will also impact Mobile and that’s why the idea of web apps is relevant

Here is how these ideas could evolve:

1)  HTML5 is gaining critical mass. There are still some gaps – and development is ahead of the standard but there is industry alignment around HTML5. HTML5 provides both the user experience and the APIs

2)  Chrome labsMozilla labsEricsson labs and Webinos are now driving the evolution of the Web

3)  Since froyo onwards, it has been possible to create a bridge between Chrome and Android to transfer content. Mozilla has similar initiatives through firefox sync. Thus, content could span the Web and Mobile

4) A set of technologies(source Mozilla) are on the horizon – CSS2.1, CSS3, SVG Filters, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora, Native JSON, MathML, Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG), Cross-Site XMLHttpRequest, Microformats, Web Worker Threads

5)  Serverside Javasript engines like node.jsJaxer and jquery also help spread javascript to the server. This helps the Web since Javascript is a core component of the Web

6)  The apache foundation is also bridging the gaps with initiatives like apache extras

8 )  Initiatives like webinos will fulfil key gaps in Web technologies

9) We are seeing many players some unlikely ones like Skype make a push for the Web next year Skype make a push for the Web next year

Hybrid solutions

Currently, we are seeing the deployment of Hybrid solutions i.e. solutions that use Web technologies for development and can deploy to more than one native platforms for instance Phonegap, worklight and Rhomobile are examples of this trend. Also, we are seeing  encapsulated widgets i.e. apps that are wrapped around web technologies and also companies like Alibro which enable deployment using web technologies even to legacy devices. Thus, the boundaries gaps continue to blur between Web apps and Native apps

Emerging domains

There are many areas in which the Web is evolving: Here are some

1)      hardware acceleration for javascript optimization

2)      Identity and session management are missing on the web. Webinos and other initiatives could provide this

3)      The continued evolution of HTML5 even when it is imperfect Microsoft Offers Unfinished HTML5 Features in Internet Explorer 9 for Developers Only

4)      Social gaming especially facebook games which are based on web technologies

5)      Video and the limitations of video content – for instance YouTube still uses Flash as opposed to HTML5

6)      Connected TV is an important domain ex at CES Opera announced initiatives for connected TVs Opera for connected TVs and so did Access CES – ACCESS Connected TV solutions

7)      Features like two factor authentication Google two factor authentication for the web(and for mobile web)

8 )      Finger friendly web sites(touch based input) and Augmented reality for the web

9)       Mobile javascript libraries like  jQuery, The Dojo Toolkit although many are not yet optimised to mobile and many more The top 10 JavaScript libraries that compete against jQuery

The silent revolution – Vision of web apps

The vision of Web apps will be a silent revolution.Web apps will coexist with native apps.

From the development and design side, developers will write apps that run on many platforms including web apps. From a user perspective, users will see native apps and web apps together. Nokia has done this for a long time including in current versions of Ovi by mixing web run time widgets with regular apps on the home screen of the ovi store and we could view it as below


So, to conclude:

1) The Web is not governed by any entity and that makes it both ubiquitous but slower than proprietary technologies but Web apps are catching up very fast as we discuss above and there will be interim steps with companies like Phonegap and others that use web technologies but deploy on multiple app platforms

2) Both web and apps will coexist

3) Web and open source will provide mutual synergies(chrome, apache, webinos etc)

4) Note that outside of the Web, IPR will still be important in the Telecoms industry – ex in Devices and networks. Standardization is also a complex, multi-faceted process, so our discussion on Standards and Open source is relevant to Web standards

Any comments welcome


We would like to acknowledge contributions from forumoxford members especially Robin Jewsbury, C Enrique Ortiz,  Zigurd MednieksMartin WilsonAlex KerrWilliam VolkHenry Sinn

Ajit is speaking at the following conferences

CTIA Mobile web and mobile apps – Orlando

CTIA – future of tablets event – Orlando

M-days – at Messe Frankfurt

ICE amsterdam – Amsterdam

Mobile World Congress – BarcelonaWAC apps at Mobile World Congress 2011