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Mozilla: HTML5 Could Topple ‘Closed’ App Stores

New Orleans – The growth of
cellphones as portable game players, Internet radios and digital wallets was a
key topic at CTIA’s second-day keynote session, where a Mozilla executive also
forecast that open HTML5-based web applications will challenge “curated” app

“Will one or two companies be
able to curate the interests of five to six billion people around the world?”
asked Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs.

By 2016, he said, more than 2
billion mobile devices will sport fully compliant HTML5 browsers, and app
developers would prefer to write an app once that will work across so many devices.

That capability is being
developed as part of the company’s Boot
to Gecko (B2G) OS, which Mozilla is creating as a “standalone operating system
for the web,” the company’s website shows. “Ideally, the technology pioneered
or refined in B2G will make its way into all mobile browsers so that enhanced
open web applications can be great regardless of operating system or device,”
the website adds.

During his keynote, Kovacs said
he foresees a “momentous platform shift” as significant as the “tremendous rush
of innovation” brought on by the open HTML standard and standardized web
browsers, which brought openness to the web and toppled AOL’s dominance as a
closed access portal to curated websites, he said.

The key takeaway of the web’s
evolution is that “diverse needs could not be served by any one company,”
Kovacs said.

 HTML5, he said, will bring openness to the
mobile web, and it’s optimized for music, video and applications. HTML, on the
other hand, was optimized for text and documents. It will also “usher in an
explosion of innovation.”

As for when HTML5 will challenge
existing app stores, Kovacs said, “The future is always sooner and always

While the industry awaits
Kovacs’s forecasts to become reality, mobile phones have already become game
platform, said Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello. In fact, he said, mobile
phones offer more revenue potential for game developers than game consoles. He
points to an installed base of 200 million console owners worldwide, compared
with almost 2 billion cellphone owners worldwide.

Smartphone owners, he noted, talk
an average of 15 minutes per day on their smartphone but play mobile games on
average for 46 minutes per day on their device.

Mobile has attracted top game
developers who’ve developed games that are as good as or better than
PlayStation II games, he added.

The growth of mobile gaming,
however, will not come at the expense of gaming on consoles, PCs and social
networks, Riccitiello emphasized. All will grow in part because consumers can
play the same game on all platforms, use the networked platforms to compete
with gamers across platforms, and use each platform to track their progress and
achievements across platforms.

For his part, Spotify CEO and
cofounder Daniel Ek said his Internet music service has developed a similar
cross-platform strategy, having launched on the web in the U.S. about nine
months ago and having launched apps for iOS, Android, Windows Mobile,
BlackBerry and Symbian devices. The cross-platform strategy strengthens the
company’s mission of enabling users to share playlists with other Spotify
subscribers, he said.