by Al Sacco

Mobile Browsers: Have They Moved Beyond “Only for Emergencies?”

Oct 24, 20073 mins
Enterprise Applications

This morning I came across this question on LinkedIn Answers: “What percentage of the time do you use your mobile device as a browser?”

Though I think of it a bit differently, I’ve been asking myself the same question for some time: Have mobile browsers moved beyond the point of “only for emergencies?”

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Without a doubt, such browsers are improving as more and more business and consumer users purchase Web-enabled mobile devices or smartphones and the potential for monetary gain becomes apparent to software developers and device makers.

The introduction of Apple’s Mobile Safari browser along with the iPhone last June was certainly a turning point, as well. I truly haven’t heard more than a few minor complaints about the browser, though I haven’t yet had any first-hand experience with it. The LinkedIn post also mentions that users of Nokia’s 9300 device have really taken to their Opera Mini-based browsers, as well.

I’m currently using a BlackBerry 8820 and I use both the standard BlackBerry browser that comes pre-installed on all RIM handhelds, as well as the Opera Mini browser. I prefer Opera Mini—I can scroll through pages much faster–but I find myself using the BlackBerry browser quite frequently because some sites just don’t render well in Opera. The same goes for the BlackBerry browser, but website developers generally assume that there are more users of the BlackBerry version than Opera Mini users, and sites, or their mobile counterparts, are designed accordingly. is a perfect example. Try visiting us using your BlackBerry browser—if you’ve got one–and you’ll see a neatly organized mobile website, albeit sans images. Then type in using Opera, and you get a condensed version of what you would see in a traditional browser window, chopped into two pages.

My answer to the question of whether or not mobile browsers have moved beyond “just for emergencies,” is a strong yes, though I feel some additional explanation is in order. First of all, I never use my mobile browser if I’ve got a PC or notebook with Web access available. Why would I?

But I do use my mobile browsers very frequently, and not just for emergencies. I was, in fact, just visiting while talking a quick jaunt around our office. Obviously, the device you employ, and more specifically, the size of its display likely have a significant impact on the way you use your mobile browser.

Do you think mobile browsers have improved? If so, what has changed?

Which browser is currently the best?

Furthermore, what do you hate about them? In other words, if you could change one thing about your mobile browser, what would it be?