Successful UIs of the Future: Those With The Best Internet Experience

I’ve mentioned before about how I think a key aspect of mobile operating systems of the near future will be the degree to and ease with which they can be customized with user interfaces. I think this is part of what’s behind the recent Symbian move, for instance. But what will also be key will be those OSes and UIs that give the best mobile internet experience. That doesn’t mean having the best browser, it’s a lot deeper than that. It’ll be which has the best widget platform, supports the best runtimes, and so on.

This will be way more important than native development — after all, if developer support or application availability was the most important factor, Palm wouldn’t be in the can, would it? As things have played out, Java has provided a good enough (note I didn’t say “good” or “great”) app environment for most users, and various smartphone OSes have filled in the gaps. Accessing internet services from mobile will increasingly move away from standalone apps and into various runtimes and widget platforms (see my earlier post on the Facebook mobile UI), particularly when these runtimes and platforms hit critical mass.

When will that be? As Dean Bubley points out, when Nokia’s Series 40 starts supporting them:

Given that it accounts for 30%+ of all worldwide phone shipments – and probably 40%+ or 50%+ in certain markets – any developments in the platform pretty much determine the viability of future next-gen business models.

It’s very easy to get hung up on Feature X or Application Y that is supported by S60 / Windows / Android / iPhone / whatever…. but if it ain’t in S40, it ain’t going to be that important in the really big, wide world.

He goes on to talk about the mobile internet features of the newest version of S40, the 6th edition, including support for Flash Lite 3 and a WebKit browser that can handle HTML and Ajax. Widgets are supported through the Widsets platform. (More info from a thorough post by Stefan Constantinescu here.)

There are a few kingmakers in the mobile world, and the people deciding what makes it in to Series 40 are definitely one of them, so it’s worth paying attention to what gets built into the platform, and which technologies it backs. But this also highlights the progression of mobile handset software in general, and how the mobile internet experience is of ever-increasing importance.

—–>Follow us on Twitter too: @russellbuckley and @caaarlo