We build JavaScript applications

Webinos: New Project to enable Cross-Platform Apps

Webinos is a pan-European initiative trying to build a ”Secure WebOS Application Delivery Environment”. It aims to create an open source platform that will “enable web applications and services to be used and shared consistently and securely over a broad spectrum of converged and connected devices, including mobile, PC, home media (TV) and in-car units”.

The consortium is led by the Frauenhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems and has already 22 partners including W3C, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Telefonica, docomo, Deutsche Telekom, BMW and the University of Oxford. It has received a €10m funding from the EU and will run over three years.
Will webinos solve the fragmentation problem?

As many developers know there are a lot of different application platforms out there already (Android, iPhone, Symbian, Web … you name it). Fragmentation and porting applications are huge issues for developers and expensive in regards to development cost and time.

The new consortium wants to solve this problem by creating an open source, web-based platform that would allow the same application to run across a very wide variety of device types. The platform can be used on any handset regardless of the OEM or carrier. Basically a universal OS or runtime environment to write once, run anywhere.
A very ambitious goal! Especially considering that maximum compatibility usually comes in a least common denominator package.

For us this project first and foremost raises some questions:
  • How do other projects like JIL/the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC) fit into the picture? They also aim to create open platforms for mobile apps and solve the fragmentation problem.
  • Is this gonna be a corporate-driven PhoneGap?
  • Comparable to other approaches like Mobile OpenLaszlo?
  • Will HTML5 have a big part in this? (probably it will)
  • How small will the least common denominator really be?
  • No matter how web-based you are you need to deal with browser issues and fragmentation - how is this solved?
  • Are there too many cooks in the kitchen?
  • Where do Google, Apple and Nokia (and many others) fit into this?
  • Where are the developers? It is a tough task to convince developers to develop for your platform, no matter how great it might be. Other companies are already spending millions on this (some more successful than others).
  • Is someone of webinos going to present the project at the Mobile Unconference in November?
What we think:

A well funded project with a noble goal. Lots of players involved, many obstacles to take, many people to convince. The goal is very, very ambitious and the resulting platform will depend on making compromises. The Web is the platform of the future - this is another proof.
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