Browser Panel at SXSW
Arun at AOL ran a great panel today titled Browser Wars Past and Present. There actually wasn’t much discussion of past browser wars, but there was lots of good discussion on the future of Web standards and HTML standards in particular. Opera, Microsoft and Mozilla on the same panel – great stuff. So when question time came around, I asked about when these guys are going to implement the WICD specification that we’ve (with the exception of MS) have been working on jointly in W3C for the past 2 years. To Charles’s credit, he said Opera is implementing it – great to hear it. But what I heard from Brendan Eich, CTO of Mozilla, floored me. He actually said that he doesn’t believe people are going to browse the Web on their phone. He sat there and said “I don’t believe people want to use Wikipedia from their phone.” Well — speaking as someone who has authored Wikipedia pages on mobile devices, of course my point of view is that this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about with regard to mobile, which is a bit sad because he’s obviously a smart guy in other respects. It’s typical of the willful denial that’s all too prevalent in the “Web” community about mobile, and it stems from a misapprehension about the nature of the platform. Yes, the mobile is not suited to the kind of Web browsing that people are used to on the PC. It is suited to a different kind of Web usage and interaction model, a model that the WICD spec was built to service.
So – great panel and a great discussion, and great to see Microsoft coming back to the standards table. I have very high hopes for the rechartered HTML effort. As usual, Opera is out in front regarding browser innovation and standards support.