Mobile World Congress 2012 showcases the mobile industry’s greatest innovations. So it’s only fitting that this is the backdrop to an important industry initiative led by Facebook.

We have all read about the promised benefits of Web Apps over Native Apps. Web Apps can be developed quicker and with fewer resources. They can run on multiple platforms without any porting effort. They can be nearly as fast as Native Apps. Updating users with new features is a breeze. And the list goes on. [If you are not familiar with Web Apps versus Native Apps debate, see this excellent graphic for background.] But then why do we not see more Web Apps on mobile devices? There are several well-known and often-discussed hurdles in the way of widespread Web Apps use such as monetization and discoverability. Yet there is also one fundamental problem that does not get nearly as much attention. It is the fragmentation of the mobile web on popular platforms. The following three issues best explain this fragmentation problem: 

  1. Support of key mobile web features is inconsistent across popular platforms. An example would be the support of WebGL - some mobile platforms support it but others don’t.
  2. New HTML5 features always appear first on traditional desktop browsers and only later on mobile platforms. In other words, the pace of new feature adoption on mobile platforms is often too slow for web developers.
  3. There is no single roadmap of future feature support on the mobile. What may be a good feature for the desktop browser might not be needed for the mobile web. Conversely there are new ideas that are specifically designed for the mobile world – Full Screen API for instance. Yet the mobile community does not have a common roadmap of desirable features – something akin to a blueprint for the platform enablers.

Even when the right features are available across platforms, there is still this issue of performance. Web developers also need their Apps to be as responsive as Native Apps – a slow Web App provides poor user experience.

These issues are not platform or vendor specific. They can be best addressed by adopting a community approach – a community of all major participants in mobile web development – platform providers, equipment manufacturers, browser vendors, development framework providers, SOC developers, and app developers. TI is happy to report that we are partnering with Facebook in launching such an initiative through which we can bring the mobile web community together and address these issues. We are joining a new W3C community group Core Mobile Web Platform whose charter is to accelerate adoption of the Mobile Web technologies for mobile app development. As a W3C community group, it will not define any new standard – instead it will try to bring together all major players in the mobile web ecosystem to adopt a common set of guidelines, use cases, and prioritized list of features that are important to the community.

We have been working hard to enable and optimize key HTML5 technologies on our OMAP platform. Our newest member of the OMAP family, the OMAP 5 platform, has a potent combination of industry-best dual Cortex-A15 CPU and SGX-544MP2 Graphics subsystems. This combination of a speedy CPU subsystem and a powerful Graphics core, combined with the platform’s other smart multicore features, is intended to support complex and fast Web Apps. We have a vision of what’s possible from developers, given they have the right tools to develop efficiently.  It’s an exciting opportunity for us to be part of a group that will help enable developers to bring their designs to life. We’re looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. Here’s to an even brighter future for Mobile Web technologies.