Small scale wars

I came across a blog claiming that we’re at war, based on Eskil having a good partisan gloat on a negative review of the Konqueror-based Nokia browser (“A special circle of Hell needs to be created…”). The blog entry is somewhat unfair as it discounts Small-Screen Rendering for reformatting pages and then goes to criticise horizontal scrolling, the very problem SSR was designed to counter (if you don’t reformat the page on too small screens, you will get horizontal scrolling which wrecks havoc with readability), but I liked the site-by-site comparison.

I am fine with our “war”, just like press coverage of the “second browser war” is good for anyone caring about browser rendering on the Web. That is, as long as the story is IE vs Firefox vs Opera vs Safari/Konqueror (vs the other browsers if the journalists are thorough enough). IE vs Firefox stories are less interesting, obviously for leaving out Opera, but in particular because as long as the story is about two boxers in the ring, why should anyone care about open standards?

An unsung browser innovator is OmniWeb and I also think that everyone at Opera who have ever touched a Mac have a soft spot for iCab. Yes, it is a competitor, but it has got that Opera spunk. It has the longest odds in the world but it doesn’t cease to innovate, and it is deeply committed to standards. I don’t have a Mac, otherwise I would probably have bought a licence, just on principle. If you got a Mac and 29€ to spare, you know what to do. While you’re at it, download Opera for Mac and do a lot of those Google searches.

The original browser war was a traumatic affair for the Web, and in my view Netscape was a greater villain than IE, but both were pretty nasty and neither cared about Web standards unless it furthered their cause. The more the current “war” is reported, the more likely the best browsers will be installed instead of default browsers. So the second browser war is benevolent, may the best browser, be it IE, Opera, Firefox, Konqueror, or iCab win.

I conditionally put IE as a competitor and not an enemy, though it has had a chequered past. From IE6 to IE7 Microsoft has played fairly as I see it, they didn’t in the past and who is to know if they will in the future.

The same goes for this reported phone browser war. More than on PCs the browser you will use on your phones is the one initially installed, good or bad. If there was to be a browser war Opera vs Nokia (KHTML) vs Netfront vs Minimo, so much the better. Minimo is lacking for other reasons, but as for standards compliance Gecko is a very decent competitor. Netfront isn’t up to par with the desktop browsers in that respect, but is good enough to be counted in this company. Reviews comparing all of these, for small devices as well as the not-quite-small devices, would be good for open standards, the same open standards as on desktop browsers.

So again competition is good. If we were to declare war I would suggest War on WAP, at least it got this nice alliteration.


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