For the past four years, web browser competition has been dominated by Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. In contrast, the landscape in mobile web browsers — that is, those used in smartphones that allow Internet access — points to a quickly changing arena. While computers (both PCs and laptops) have an automated Internet browser from which people rarely deviate, mobile devices grant customers the freedom to discover new applications that are unfamiliar but promise great utility, allowing newcomers to compete with established giants.
Introducing the New Players
Browsers like Opera and Dolphin Browser are gaining ground and followers. Their success comes from more fine-tuned features that change the user experience. Simple things like a better ‘copy text’ ability sets Opera apart from other browsers, causing customers to take notice and make the leap to its web browser. But the pros don’t stop there. Opera users boast about the browser’s speed, stating that it is faster than other browsers like Safari. The layout of the pages also shape the experience, as pages have a sleeker red and white look and include page previews of tabs open. Also, with cell phone plans keeping count over the amount of data used, Opera mini-compresses pages to use less data, even showing you on a bar graph how much data you’ve used versus how much you would have used in another browser.
Dolphin Browser is perhaps one of the mobile web browsers that is pushing the envelope in terms of innovation. The app is almost a blend between web browser and all the recent breakthroughs in mobile technology. The app incorporates a Cloud-like feature that allows you to easily connect your Dolphin bookmarks across all your devices, features voice recognition software that allows you to take command your searches, and includes a type of Pulse-like self-customized news gallery. Browsing becomes enjoyable as an act in itself, as the fast, intuitive and fun app eliminates ads in favor of a high-resolution experience. The app is available for both iOS and Android as well as tablets, increasing customer reach.
Are Web Browsers the Next Social Networks?
While mobile web browsers like Dolphin have incorporated features that are similar to facebook, namely a navigation sidebar from which you can directly connect to saved websites and personal folders in addition to a variety of add-ons. This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Amigo, an offspring of the russian mail service giant Mail.Ru, is vying for an extensive domestic market share by becoming the first “social” web browser. While other browsers like Chrome give users the option of adding web applications to optimize their experience, Amigo automatically connects you to your social media websites—Facebook as well as other popular Russian sites like Odnoklassniki, VKontakte, and Moi Mir.
Amigo takes concepts like that of TweetDeck and extend it to the whole web. You can follow friend activity, listen to music, send messages, and post to your social network directly from the browser. Thus, while the trend in technology has pointed towards an increasing fragmentation of media according to function, Amigo thrives by connecting sites. Though the browser is currently only available in its computer form, a mobile version is certain.
Breaking and Entering the Market
Mobile web browsers are not only the future of web access, but also a largely pioneering one. Interestingly, these browsers face the challenge of a limiting medium. Handheld devices have a low-bandwidth, low-memory capacity, which forces web browsers to modify their structure. Yet, rather than being restricted by these factors, mobile web browsers have creatively approached the situation. Dolphin and Opera point to the results that an innovative approach can have on user preferences, as they are growing companies in a market that is characterized by strong competition by established giants like Chrome and Safari. Moreover, entering contenders like Amigo point to a new browsing experience, one that emphasizes social reach and capitalizes on the popularity of social sites like Facebook. Mobile browsers thus point to a new direction that emphasizes user enjoyment, one that will surely revolutionize the way we connect to the world around us.