In a bid to encourage the mobile phone industry to standardize on a single Web browser, Nokia on Wednesday released the source code for the mobile phone Web browser it developed last year.
Nokia designed the browser for its S60 line of phones using the same open-source frameworks used by Apple Computer for its Safari browser, and adding enhancements designed to improve mobile browsing. Mobile phone makers or operators can now access the engine that runs the Nokia-developed browser and customize it for their own needs.
“We want to reduce the fragmentation currently in place in mobile browsing,” said Lee Epting, vice president of Forum Nokia, Nokia’s software development support program.
She doesn’t expect the fact that this browser comes from Nokia to discourage Nokia competitors from using it. “It would be one thing if it was under proprietary licensing terms,” she said. But Nokia is releasing the code as a BSD License, which she describes as a liberal license that enables anyone to use the code to develop a commercial offering. Developers can find the code through the WebKit Open Source Project.
Features of the browser include the capability to work well in low-memory situations, a mouse pointer for a similar navigation experience as on the desktop, and support for dynamic HTML and Ajax. Developers will be able to create their own user interface for the browser, a key way for them to differentiate their products, Epting said.
When Nokia first announced its open source browser project last year, the company said that creating a browser based on existing open source components was the least-expensive route to offering a full-function browser on its phones. Because of the volume of phones that Nokia ships, licensing a browser from a third party would become cost-prohibitive, Nokia said at the time.
Nokia does license a browser from Opera Software for some phones and isn’t making any announcements about changes to that agreement in the near term, Epting said.
In 2004, Nokia made a financial investment in Minimo, the Mozilla Foundation’s mobile browser project.
-Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service
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