Web browsers have a future and it looks promising

by Abhinna Shreshtha    Dec 10, 2010

Jon S von TetzchnerEven as the increasing popularity of applications has caused many to question the relevance of web browsers, Jon S von Tetzchner, co-founder Opera Software, remains confident that browsers still have a role to play.

On one of his rare visits to India, von Tetzchner spent some time speaking with CXOtoday about Opera, its plans and the future of the Internet. On asking him if applications are making browsers redundant, this is what he had to say, “How many applications do you use daily? Even if you count MS Outlook and MS Word, the count won’t be more than five. Everything else is online.”

However, applications are increasing in popularity and will continue to do so, especially with devices like smartphones, tablets, notebooks, etc. increase in popularity. Of course this does not mean that the death knell has been sounded for web browsers, but it will be interesting to note what a pure-play company like Opera will do to fit in the new scenario.

The problem for applications, according to von Tetzchner, is that there are just too many platforms. “If I want an application to run on Symbian, Android and Windows; I will have to write three separate applications for each platform. With the Internet, there is no such compulsion. This is what is needed - on uniform standard that all developers can use and the best one around is the Internet,” he said. Von Tetzchner also criticized WAP and called it ‘a failure and something that should never be attempted’ “We should not create separate Internets for different devices. That is completely against the idea of the Internet,” he said.

Meanwhile, von Tetzchner also revealed the direction in which the Internet was heading. According to him the future was all about connecting all the electronic devices to each other, and the easiest way to do this was by using the Internet and the web browser. Opera has already designed products for devices as varied as the Nintendo Wii to smartphones and tablets. The company is also working with Toshiba, Sony, Philips, etc. to develop televisions with pre-bundled Opera browsers. “The idea is that the Internet is one of the most effective delivery channels available to us, so why not utilize it to the maximum? We want to create an environment where every electronic device can connect to each other and the Internet,” said von Tetzchner.

Of course, Opera is not the only company with such ambitions. This week Google announced a revolutionary operating system based on its Chrome browser. The Chrome OS had been specially optimized for the Internet and again the idea is the same - to make use of the Internet and web applications wherever possible and though, Opera’s other peers - Microsoft and Apple, haven’t announced anything this radical yet; it is surely just a matter of time. It seems that the humble web browser is heading down an interesting path.