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Open-Source WebKit Adoption on the Rise

As consumers increasingly surf the Web on their mobile phones, handset vendors are looking toward open-source browsers such as WebKit -- the browser engine at the heart of the iPhone's Safari browser.

However, despite growing interest in WebKit and Gecko (the engine for the Mozilla Corporation Firefox browser), commercial browser vendors such as Opera and ACCESS continue to see growth in their businesses.

According to ABI Research, overall growth in the mobile Web browser category will lead to a total pre-installed revenue of $492 million by 2013, driven by the trends of more complex HTML-based browser integration.

"Device manufacturers are interested in open-source solutions where there is a desire for increased control of their software footprint, and where they can bring internal programming resources to bear," says research director Michael Wolf.

"At the same time, vendors such as Opera are seeing strong growth in their mobile browser offerings, which provide the ability to access Web pages with advanced features such as zoom, bookmark syncing, and landscape mode, while also permitting handset vendors and operators to focus development resources elsewhere."

Open-source offerings such as WebKit are experiencing adoption by vendors such as Apple, Nokia, and others. Google made WebKit its core browser and Web-rendering engine for the Android platform; and application framework vendors such as Trolltech have integrated WebKit into their development framework. Mozilla also continues to develop its version of mobile Firefox, and Nokia has integrated a Gecko-based browser on its N800 Internet tablet.

"The mobile browser market continues to be dynamic as hardware vendors embrace a variety of options for their family of devices to best meet their business, technology, and partner requirements," continues Wolf.

"ABI Research expects the larger trend to place emphasis on closing the gap between the experience of the Web on a mobile phone and that of a PC, while focusing on technologies such as content adaptation that optimize experience for the mobile screen."

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