HTML is interesting again

Simon St. Laurent on the O’Reilly Radar talks about the rebirth of the conversation around HTML after the relative quiet of the past five or six years:

Today, though, the HTML conversation is reborn. Standards development around HTML seems to actually have a chance of influencing user experience in the browser, and Microsoft itself is participating in the HTML 5 conversation despite still holding roughly two-thirds of the browser market. While Microsoft’s market share is only slowly eroding, developer mindshare seems to have shifted decisively to the band of WHATWG upstarts, Microsoft’s competitors.

The reason for this, I think, is that HTML 5 clearly has a bright future in a place that Microsoft can’t presently block: mobile web browsers. When I ask people about the future of computing, the word I keep hearing in their answers is “mobile”. Even if it’s small now, it has a much greater effect on how people evaluate what’s coming.

Microsoft has a mobile presence, certainly, but it’s hard to argue that it has anywhere near the visibility of the iPhone, or even the Android. Mobile web browsing has kept Opera going for years, but the iPhone and Android give Apple and Google much more visibility for their HTML 5 work, and Apple’s decision to keep Flash off the iPhone in particular gave developers further cause to rethink their dependencies. (The WebKit browser engine these share will also be integrated with Blackberry soon, and is also on the Palm Pre.)

What’s especially interesting to me is the amount of mobile systems that are going with WebKit as their rendering engine of choice. It’s not just RIM and Palm, but you now have Symbian and Nokia coming together under the Symbian Foundation as well.

And as final food for thought, a demo of what Webkit is now capable of with just HTML and CSS Transforms (requires a recent Webkit nightly build or you can view a video of the demos at Dailymotion).