Janne Hakola, Mika Lahti
This reduces the size of the content to only 1/3 of the
2.3 Accessing Web content                                   size o...
a cascading style sheet version supported by xHTML         3.2 Operators
MP. (Wikipedia WAP,, OneUpWeb 2005)
4.2 Price                                                      totally problematic and the lately introduced Minimap
Opera mini was officially launched in January 2006           Nokia Kanavat is to get Finland’s media services into
downloads and installs software from the Web to
their mobile de...
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  1. 1. MOBILE BROWSERS Janne Hakola, Mika Lahti Helsinki University of Technology Telecommunications Software And Multimedia Laboratory P.O. Box 5400, FIN-02015 TKK FINLAND Abstract Figure 1: Distribution of Packet Data Usage by Services (Feller 2005) The aim of this paper is to give a general view of current mobile browsers solutions. First there is an introduction section which generally describes what is mobile browsing. After this there is section which explains technologies and standards related to mobile browsers. This section shortly describes what mobile browser is and also the technology behind mobile browsing is introduced. There is also short overview of standards related to mobile browsing. In the section three we present some possibilities for different players of this field and that is followed by fourth selection describing success factors for mobile browsers. Finally, we present the most important mobile browser solutions currently available and discuss also about business models that lay under different mobile browsers. Key Words Mobile Browser, Mobile Browsing, Micro browser 2. Technologies and Standards 1. Introduction 2.1 What is Mobile Browser Mobile browsers have evolved greatly from the simple and restricted WAP browsers of the turn of the A mobile browser (sometimes micro browser or millennium to the almost PC-like multi-functional minibrowser) is a Web browser specially designed for browsers of today. While the operators then were PDA or mobile phones devices. There are four basic advertising the possibilities to access WAP content with limitations for browsers in handheld devices: display, mobile phone, nowadays the need is for the whole web bandwidth, memory, and processing power. Displays on the mobile phone. This evolvement has emphasized are small in handheld devices so browser must mobile device’s constraints and their affect to mobile effectively display internet content. Low memory browsing as the web content is mainly designed for capacity set limits to features in mobile browsers. Low desktop computers with lots of computing power and bandwidth and low processing power also produces big screens. Developing solutions to solve these limitations to effects in mobile browsers. (Wikipedia limitations has been the main challenge for mobile Microbrowser) browser vendors. Mobile browsing is expected to become very popular among mobile device users. Figure 1 shows results from 2.2 Browsing the Web and Mobile Web a resent study with Series 60 mobile phone users. According to this study, mobile browsing created as Mobile browsing can be divided to browsing the Web much as 63 percent of participants’ whole packed data and browsing the mobile web. The Web meaning usage. Although users participating to the research were general content usually designed for PC-usage and the technology enthusiastic early adopters, this clearly mobile web consisting of content specially designed for indicates good success for the mobile browsing in the mobile devices. Nowadays there is also a possibility to future as more individuals start to adopt this technology. distinguish mobile web content by the lately (July 2005) announced “.mobi” –suffix ( 2005).
  2. 2. This reduces the size of the content to only 1/3 of the 2.3 Accessing Web content size of the original data. (Lawton 2001, OneUpWeb 2005) There are three common ways to access Web via mobile browser. Firstly content can be accessed directly with Figure 3: Web content access via gateway the mobile browser, secondly content can be accessed (OneUpWeb 2005) through WAP gateway or proxy server and thirdly, content can be browsed offline via device’s cache. Figure 2 illustrates different approaches for accessing Web content. (Lawton 2001) Figure 2: Accessing Web content (modified from Lawton 2001) 2.3.3 Caching In offline browsing, web pages are cached into handheld device’s memory for later use. Caching can be done in one-way or in bidirectional way. One-way caching meaning downloading of web pages to handheld’s memory for later access and bidirectional caching meaning for example the case where traveling sales representative synchronizes the cache with company server when s/he is visiting the company’s office. (Lawton 2001) 2.4 WAP Wireless Application Protocol - or simply WAP - is an application environment and set of communication protocols for wireless devices to enable services 2.3.1 Direct Access equivalent to a Web browsing in mobile devices. It provides manufacturer-, vendor-, and technology- Direct access to Web content means that an HTML- independent markup language and a transport protocol enabled mobile browser can access data directly from for small device usage. Before WAP was created, some the Web or alternatively XHTML MP/WML – enabled manufacturers already had developed their own browser can access data directly from mobile web. application platforms but in 1997 they realized the large Accessing the Web directly via HTML browser requires business opportunities enabled by one open some computing power from small devices as the international standard and gathered together to create content normally designed for PC-usage has to be WAP. Despite the early hype and exaggerated claims rendered to fit the small display of the device. Direct about the possibilities of WAP at the turn of the HTML access also creates the most amount of data millennium, nowadays, WAP is in key role to realize traffic as the whole Web content is first downloaded to mobile browsing and its widening success. (Wikipedia the handheld and only after that the content is fitted to WAP, handheld’s constraints. (Lawton 2001, OneUpWeb 2005) 2.5 Markup Languages for Mobile 2.3.2 WAP gateways/proxy servers Browsing The second way is to use a WAP gateway/proxy to first WAP has significantly clarified the history of markup translate HTML content to standard WML or xHTML languages for mobile content. Figure 4 illustrates the and after that, send the translated data to mobile history of wireless markup languages with several browser. This reduces the data traffic for the handheld different languages at the beginning and one common and thus reduces the time to load the content. Accessing language as the result of international agreements Web content through gateway also moves the heavy and among WAP. While the Figure 4 illustrates the situation battery consuming task of rendering content from only to the year 2001, situation today follows the path handheld to powerful gateway system. Figure 3 illustrated by the figure. Today WAP 2.0 defines explains the situation where HTML content is xHTML Mobile Profile (xHTML MP) and WAP CSS downloaded from the Web through gateway. Gateway as standards for content development. XHTML MP is a optimizes page code and page graphics and also subset of xHTML for mobile devices and WAP CSS is compressed the data before sending it to the handheld.
  3. 3. a cascading style sheet version supported by xHTML 3.2 Operators MP. (Wikipedia WAP,, OneUpWeb 2005) According to Jan Feller, mobile browsing generates Figure 4: History of Wireless mark-up languages 63% of packet data traffic among early adopters using (Openwave 2006) 3G or GPRS (Feller 2005). This forecast good success for mobile browsing in future. This also means that browsing will be good revenue opportunity for operators. Change towards mobile web browsing opens possibilities to SIM-card based billing for operators. User can be identified through SIM card and after the use of the third party service operator adds service fee to user’s phone bill. For the operator this opens new possibilities to get revenue by taking care of the billing. They can add more and more services to phone bill and capture billing markets from bank industry. Conjointly agreed mark-up language for wireless usage has huge benefits for the industry. Mobile browser Operators can also brand their own mobile phone and software providers can focus on one standard and this of co-operate with mobile browser vendor to set operator’s course eases their browser development efforts. Content own Web page as the home page for the installed providers can produce their material in only one browser. This way operators can effectively affect standard and thus reduce the cost of supporting several user’s mobile browsing. languages. Most importantly, users don’t have to be confused with the technicalities related to the content. They don’t have to choose their mobile browsers 3.3 Device Manufacturers according to content or to have several browsers for different content languages. Nokia’s closed content media browser called Nokia Kanavat (discussed in 5.2.) is a good example of how mobile phone vendor could take advantage of mobile 3. Possibilities for Different Players browsing. Nokia produced own media browser and involves all Finland’s biggest medias to create content 3.1 End user services enabled available for consumers. Nokia includes this Kanavat browser in new mobile phone selling packets so it’s OneUpWeb identifies two primary types of mobile easily available (Franck 2005). This is example how shoppers: need-it-now-shoppers and killing-time device manufacturer makes more value to their core shoppers. This could also be widened to distinguish two products by providing content for consumers. types of mobile browser users. Need-it-now consumers use mobile browsing when they immediately need some service or information. Killing-time users on the other 4. Success Factors hand use mobile browsing when they are waiting for example buss. They use mobile browser to find Key success factors for mobile browsing include price, information they need in the future, or they use content, usability and bandwidth. entertainment services just to kill time (OneUpWeb 2005). Consumer users use mostly services like weather, news, and sports. 4.1 Content Mobile browsing makes possible to reach Web content While the amount of mobile web content varies between anywhere. This allows them to take care of for example countries (Roto), people in countries with only few banking in summer cottage. There are also services mobile web pages are still using their mobile devices to where user can download e.g. magazine and after access HTML Web content. As more and more downloading view the content anytime in offline. These browsers become capable of showing also HTML kinds of services are especially available in content content, there should not be lack of content available specific browsers like Nokia Kanavat. considering the vast amount of Web pages in the Internet. When people start using their mobile browsers Today there are more and more services which are to access the Web, content providers might also see the based on user location. User could for example search increasing mobile browser usage as a signal to nearest restaurants, hotels etc. based on their handset profitably create mobile web content. location.
  4. 4. 4.2 Price totally problematic and the lately introduced Minimap solution tries to ease some of those problems that have The overall price of mobile browsing consists of traffic been found problematic with narrow layouts. tariff and content price. When user browses the Web content that is freely available, costs of browsing consists only from traffic tariffs. Browsing of content 4.4 Bandwidth with a price tag should be made easy for the user or s/he will frustrate and end browsing. The ease of browsing priced content is derived from the ease of the payment Low bandwidth and mobile content limitations related and the easy access for paid content. This has been to bandwidth requirements were probably one of the considered at least in content specific browsers like reasons why WAP failed at its early stages. Although Nokia Kanavat (discussed in 5.2.). more bandwidth always means nicer browsing experience, today, mobile devices with EDGE connection can already reach data rates up to 384 kbps. The best way to price traffic would be flat rate pricing. Considering PC modems with only 56 kbps connection Pricing by the bits transferred limits browsing for speed and the lightweight mobile web content, mobile example because Web content generally includes browsing should be at acceptable level already with several advertisement pictures from which the user is current bandwidth possibilities. not willing to pay extra for. If the user then restricts the browser from downloading pictures, s/he will also lose pictures that are vital part of the content. This then 5. Solutions and business strategies further differentiates the mobile browsing from desktop browsing thus negatively influencing the mobile 5.1 Current Solutions and strategies browsing experience. First mobile browser solution was a browser called HitcHiker. It was developed by a British company STNC and introduced in the year 1997. (Wikipedia 4.3 Usability Micro browser) According to Roto, mobile browsing usability consists It is reasonable divide current mobile browser vendor of three usability layers but for the user, mobile strategies to two categories. First category contains browsing is holistic experience i.e. user sees only the default browsers used by major mobile phone and PDA usability of the whole browsing experience. Figure 5 vendors. Second category consists of user-installable illustrates this usability experience (Roto). mobile browsers. Series 60 Browser and Pocket Internet Explorer represents first category and Opera Figure 5: Three layers, but holistic usability (Roto) and Opera mini are examples of second category. Opera also has co-operation with handset vendors to bundle browsers already into new mobile phone sales package. Opera Opera by Opera Software is one of the most popular solutions to mobile browsing in the market. Opera’s latest version 8.5 supports all current standards like CSS2, Javascript, Ajax, WML, and XHTML. ( 2006) Opera obtains Web content directly to the device, but then there is a small screen rendering (SSR) mode in the browser which renders Web content to fit into narrow layout which requires no horizontal scrolling. This From the user’s point of view the mobile browser makes it possible to mobile browse sites that are should function smoothly with all types of content, designed to desktop displays. The technology under whether it is designed for mobile device or PC. This SSR is proprietary and web site designer could affect causes problems especially with Web content which is how page will appear in SSR display by using CSS. not designed for small screens of mobile devices. The Opera is effective solution to mobile browsing but it mobile browser with most usable solution for browsing also needs quite lot RAM so it’s mostly used in PDA or is likely to gain success. Mobile browser developers smart phone devices. Opera is commercial solution and have developed several different solutions to overcome user has to pay a license fee if s/he wants to obtain the this most visual usability problem. Most common browser. solution today is to display Web content in narrow layout, which removes the need to scroll pages in Opera mini horizontal direction. However, this solution is not
  5. 5. Opera mini was officially launched in January 2006 Nokia Kanavat is to get Finland’s media services into (Gohring 2006). It is specially designed for low- and mobile phones. User can only browse content that is mid-end handheld devices which normally are specially designed to Kanavat browser. Since the incapable display normal Web content. While browsing, beginning, all Finland’s main TV channels like MTV3 Opera mini doesn’t require the phone to process web and YLE and newspapers like Helsingin Sanomat and page. Instead it communicates with Opera’s proxy Kauppalehti have been producing content to Kanavat servers which re-process page before sending it to the media browser. phone (as discussed in 2.3.2). This re-process strips down the size of content and makes browsing faster. Browser is available for free via Nokia’s Web site. Nokia also includes this Kanavat browser in new mobile Opera mini is available for free and user can download phone packets. In first phase, the content user it from the company’s web site. Opera offers also downloads via Nokia Kanavat is free and users pay only branded and customized versions of Opera mini for what their operators charge for data connection. Later operators and content providers to get license fees from the content is changing to partially commercial, and the the product. Company has also launched co-operation idea is that user can for example pay and download with Google in December 2005 (InformationWeek magazine. After downloading the magazine user can 2006). This agreement brings Google as default search browse it offline. function for Opera mini. Series 60 Browser Series 60 browser is a standard component of Symbian 6. Conclusions S60 platform. Like Opera browser, this obtains Web content directly to the device. It is based on open source Mobile browser industry is currently moving from components (Webcore and JavaScriptCore). This disorder situation with many different standards, browser is created in co-operation with Apple and these technologies and vendors towards the times with same open source components have been used in fewer players dominating the vast majority of the Apple’s Safari Internet browser. These Webcore and field. However, due to several mobile phone JavaScriptCore components are based on KDE’s operating systems, we do not expect for only one Konqueror open source project ( mobile browser to reach dominant position with as giant market share as Internet Explorer has in Series 60 browser supports all important standards desktop browser markets. A difference in mobile related to mobile browsing, like HTML 4.01, XHTM device hardware designs is also a reason, why there 1.0, CSS 1, 2, 3 (partially), and DOM 1&2. Main will be market possibilities for mobile browsers innovation in the new, lately announced series 60 like Opera and Opera Mini, which are targeted for browser is the Minimap feature ( 2006). devices with different capabilities. This feature allows user to see the minimized version of the whole web page in small display. User can then Mobile Browsing seems to be moving from easily navigate the page and select the area they wish to technology early adopters towards early majority of view in more detail. the population. According to Forrester Research survey of 65 000 U.S. households, 15 percent of Pocket Internet Explorer mobile services subscribers accessed the Internet Pocket Internet Explorer is the default mobile browser from their devices in 2005. This 15 percentage of in Windows mobile operating system. It requires 504 individuals already starts to reach the 16 percent KB ROM for rendering and 2.2 MB for all components. mark after which individuals adopting new In comparison with desktop Internet Explorer 6.0 which innovation belong to early majority. (Rogers) In requires minimum 15 MB ROM memory. (MSDN Finland the percentage of users accessing the Home 2006) Internet via mobile devices might be a little smaller as the resent study ordered by Elisa anticipated that only six percent of 3G mobile users accessed Internet with their 3G devices. (Kauppalehti 2006) 5.2 New Business Models When the early majority of individuals start to adopt the mobile browsing it is likely that content There is also continuous searching of new business providers also start to become more interested in models in this mobile browser section. With the mobile web content and this again may increase the browsers introduced in previous section, user is free to number of mobile browser users. browse all content available in Web. Besides these open browser models, currently, there are also browsers The best vendor strategy for mobile browser available which can be used only to browse limited software is to pre-install it into the device and that content. One of these browsers using this interesting way automatically distribute the mobile browser in new business idea is Nokia’s new Nokia Kanavat the mobile device’s sales package. This allows easy multimedia browser. and fast mobile browsing experiences for the user and therefore increases the success of mobile Nokia launched this new browser 28.11.2005 into browsing. Today, only small minority of users Finland’s mobile market (Franck 2005). Idea of this
  6. 6. downloads and installs software from the Web to their mobile devices. library/enus/wcedsn40/html/cgconsummaryofbrow serfeatures.asp Content limited mobile browsers like Nokia Referenced 23.3.2006 Kanavat will likely become widely adopted by users. Ease of use related to Nokia Kanavat OneUpWeb. 2005. Mobile Search and it’s browser and its easy content payment possibilities implications for search engine marketing are likely to increase its success among consumers and content providers. However, as users probably library/mobilesearch.pdf also like to access Web content, there is also room Referenced 21.3.2006 for open content mobile browser in devices with content limited browsers. 2006. Introduction to Phone Web Browsers References Referenced 22.3.2006, 2005. Industry moves to ease using Net via cellphone. Pasonen, K. 2005. Kari Pasonen’s representation in TKK 18.10.2005 s/2005/07/12/industry_moves_to_ease_using_net_v ia_cellphone/ ot/TelecomForum-2005.10.18-Pasonen- Referenced 21.3.2006 Subscription_and_bill.pdf Referenced 26.3.2006 Lawton, G. 2001. Browsing the Mobile Internet Passani, L. Openwave developer network: df?tp=&arnumber=970548&isnumber=20936 XHTML-MP Style Guide Chapter 1 - History of Referenced 25.3.2006 XHTML Mobile Profile. Feller, J. 2005. Jan Feller’s representation in TKK entation/guides_and_references/xhtml- 8.11.2005 mp_style_guide/chapter1.htm Referenced 24.3.2006 index.htm Referenced 26.3.2006 Rogers, E. 1983 Diffusion of Innovations. Free Press. Franck, T. 2005. Nokia julkisti uuden Kanavat- mediaselaimen. Roto, V. Browsing on Mobile Phones. page_id=12&news_id=50683 pdf Referenced 24.3.2006 Referenced 22.3.2006 Gohring, N. 2006. InfoWorld: Opera goes on the Wikipedia Microbrowser. road. Referenced 24.3.2006 05NNoperamini_1.html Referenced 22.3.2006 Wikipedia WAP. International Engineering Consortium, Referenced 24.3.2006 Wap Tutorial. Referenced 24.3.2006 InformationWeek. 2006. Google To Supply Search For Opera's Mobile Browsers. e.jhtml?articleID=175701239 Referenced 23.3.2006 Kauppalehti 2006 Harva käyttää Internetiä kännykällä. MSDN Home. 2006. Summary of Browser Features