ACCESS Co., Ltd.
ACCESS has been committed to the mobile web since web browsing for mobile devices was first possible. In 1998 ACCESS submitted the proposal for Compact HTML signaling the strategy that the mobile web should be as similar as possible to the desktop web. Compact HTML did not propose a new incompatible web standard, but instead chose a subset of HTML suitable for mobile use.
ACCESS has continued to be an active participant in the mobile web ecosystem joining the then WAP Forum in 2000, now Open Mobile Alliance. ACCESS is presently active in W3C's SYMM WG and participates in the MMI WG. ACCESS is also member of other standards organizations relevant to mobile such as 3GPP and 3GPP2.
Similar to the thought process behind HTML, we believe the mobile web does not need to be significantly different from the desktop web. What is important is to define a common subset of functionality implementable by small devices. Today the web is much richer than in 1998. Especially technologies such as SMIL, SVG, DOM, and CSS allow a rich graphical experience to the user. Mobile profiles for all of these technologies as well as XHTML must be defined to allow for interoperability and good user experience for the mobile web. Defining a suitable set of mobile profiles and mobile authoring guidelines should be a key action point for the Mobile Web Initiative.
In the past mobile devices were not very powerful, so the function subsets were severely limited. Now, mobile devices are becoming increasingly powerful so the mobile functionality subset can approach full desktop capability.
As the web experience becomes richer, there is a growing need to integrate multiple mark-ups into a single document. In fact, the W3C has initiated a work group to pursue this activity. Such Compound Document technology will be increasingly important to provide a satisfying experience to the mobile web user. Some mobile operators are pursuing a mobile compound format consisting of XHTML + SMIL + SVG + DOM + ECMAScript. This is in line with the thinking for the Compound Document Work Group.
There are two distinct use cases for the mobile web. Both must be addressed for a successful mobile web initiative.
The first use case is of content created specifically for a mobile device. Many wireless operators either create custom content or create an ecosystem of third party content developed specifically for a mobile device. This is an important category to consider.
Equally important, however, is the ability to browse full web content using a mobile device. This is extremely attractive to users because of the vast amount of information available in this format. It is the incredible depth and breadth of everyday content that makes web browsing so useful in day-to-day life. It is important to think about this use case as well.
Can we encourage this generic desktop content to be authored in such a way that it is scalable for multiple devices?
Today browser vendors have technologies to reformat desktop web content for a mobile device. ACCESS' smart-fit rendering is an example of such a technology. Smart-fit attempts to rerender any web page so that it is easily viewable on a small screen device. Other manufacturers are pursuing similar strategies indicating this is a key use case to be considered.
Is it possible to propose hints that can be easily added to desktop content to allow easy transformation on a small form factor device?
A critical need is to support content creation. It is the proliferation of quality content that makes the web successful. This means there must be adequate tools for content developers, as well as mobile content authoring guidelines and templates. This is essential for the success of the mobile web. Lastly, there must be adequate motivation for content developers to create content. This means DRM technology is important.
SVG and SMIL are important use cases. Some argue that these standards have not been adopted as widely as they could be because of lack of good authoring tools. Authoring tools and content are essential to drive these standards forward in the competition with other similar technologies.
There is a very strong need for collaboration between W3C and mobile standards organizations. Obvious candidates for collaboration are OMA, 3gpp, and 3gpp2. Work should be partitioned so that there is efficient progress in the mobile web with little duplication of effort.
An example of successful collaboration is SVG Tiny 1.2. The OMA has recently adopted this specification, proposed by the W3C, as a mobile browsing standard.
Ultimately, all organizations have the same ultimate goal for the best user experience of the mobile web.
There are several challenges for a mobile web initiative. Time-to-market is very important in the commercial world and the mobile space in particular moves very quickly. For mobile standards to be effective, they must reach the marketplace quickly.
Additionally, it is difficult to define a subset that is to be implemented by mobile hardware, when mobile hardware improves so quickly. One possible solution is a scalability framework as used in SMIL.
In the past ACCESS helped found the mobile web, and today continues to be committed toward its improvement.
Submitted to the W3C Mobile Web Initiative Workshop
Oct. 15, 2004