Mozilla: HTML5 Could Topple ‘Closed' App Stores

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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 stores.

"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 scarier."

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.


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