Mobile Browsers: More Than Just WebKit

In the past couple of years, when we think of developing for the mobile web, we think of Mobile WebKit. And rightfully so. iPhone, Android, webOS and recently BlackBerry have all thrown their muscle behind the increasingly ubiquitous browser. But, what other kinds of mobile devices are people using to access the web?

A lot.

In 2007, Jeff Skinner and I launched the now-defunct Tappity, a site which helped people discover mobile-friendly websites. The other day, I was perusing the Tappity innards and came across something interesting: a database table filled with unique User Agent strings from devices that had visited our site. For those not familiar with User-Agent Strings, they are a sort of fingerprint which helps identify a browser, so the database table represents a large sample of mobile browsers which have accessed Tappity.

The list doesn’t represent every device, nor are the strings exclusively mobile, but it does give you an idea of the diversity that exists in the mobile universe. For example, here are some top manufacturers alongside the number of browser applications/version. Note: Minor version numbers are counted as unique:

Motorola: 357
SonyEricsson: 351
Samsung: 341
Nokia: 300
LG: 169
BlackBerry: 125
HTC: 45

The full list of User-Agents can be viewed on Google Docs. Note: There are two worksheets: one with the raw strings from the database table, and another containing my attempt to identify unique application/version numbers.

Posted on May 4, 2010 at 10:27 am.