DeviceDescriptionEcosystemIntroduction

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This is the Introduction section of the document. See the DeviceDescriptionEcosystem overview.

Introduction

In the context of this Note, Device Descriptions are pieces of information relating to Web-enabled devices that may be used to categorize or distinguish these devices. In particular, this Note is concerned with descriptions of Web- enabled mobile devices and the characteristics detailed in such descriptions that may influence the delivery of content (resource representations) to them.

As an example, a description of a device may provide information about the type of markup supported by the browser, the size and resolution of the screen and the presence of various input features. A separate description of the same device might contain an evaluation of the usability of its keyboard, the usable area of the screen and the appropriate layout of the access keys. A third description might detail the most effective navigation strategies for the device, the best colour schemes and the most readable fonts in order of preference. There may be many such descriptions. The information in these descriptions may overlap, may even conflict.

These descriptions can have various sources. Each source, such as a manufacturer or a usability group, will have different motivations for providing the information. The information could be in the public domain, or only available for a fee. The descriptions can be used in various ways. In particular, the descriptions of a device can influence the content delivered to the device. The descriptions could be used by content authors, and by the users (or potential users) of these devices.

In this environment there is a community of actors (stakeholders) who collaborate or compete within a web of relationships. The actors are motivated to benefit from these relationships, and over time these relationships will evolve. This is a social, commercial and technological ecosystem based on the exchange and management of device descriptions.

At the time of writing, the ecosystem is still in its early days. Models of exchange and management have yet to evolve and mature. Many actors are unsure of the roles they will play in the ecosystem, but there is general agreement that the availability of device descriptions will bring benefits to all of the stakeholders, in particular the participants in the Mobile Web.

This Note explores the current and evolving Device Descriptions ecosystem, and suggests a potential model for exchange and management.