Forecast: 1 Billion HTML5 Phones By 2013

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There will be one billion HTML5-capable phones sold in 2013, according to new research from Strategy Analytics. The number represents a (huge, huge) increase from the 336 million units sold in 2011. As expected, much of the growth will be driven by sales in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as support from vendors like Apple, Adobe, Google and Microsoft.

For clarification purposes, the firm defines an HTML5 phone as one that’s capable of full HTML5 support within its web browser, such as the iPhone 4S.

It’s HTML5’s cross-platform nature that makes the technology impossible for mobile stakeholders to ignore, explains Strategy’s Executive Director Neil Mawston, citing HTML5’s ability to help multiple platforms converge, including smartphones, feature phones, tablets, notebooks, desktop PCs, TVs and even vehicles. However, Strategy’s Thomas Kang added that the technology is still relatively immature, with limited API’s and feature-sets when compared with what’s possible today in native apps, like those built for Android or iOS.

Strategy isn’t the only firm predicting an influx of HTML5 mobile devices. Earlier this summer, ABI Research said that there would be more than 2.1 billion mobile devices with HTML5 browsers by 2016. That’s up from 109 million in 2010.

Although the HTML5 standard itself won’t be officially complete until 2014, according to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), ABI predicts that some 25 HTML5 features now in development will become widely used over the next few years. These include feature categories like graphics, data storage, multimedia and user interactions.

One HTML5 feature is already making serious headway on mobile is HTML5 video. If you’ll recall, the rapid adoption of the web standard is precisely the reason why Adobe announced last month that it would be discontinuing its development of Flash for Mobile. Flash adoption on mobile lagged, and frankly, was drawing focus from Adobe’s other efforts in the HTML5 arena.

Whether it’s a billion phones by 2013, or a couple billion devices by 2016 (depending on your source), it’s clear that HTML5 adoption is only beginning to have an impact on today’s web. And today’s web, for many, is now the mobile web, thanks to smartphone adoption trends in key markets like North America and Europe in particular. But until HTML5 trickles down to all those feature phones, the majority of the world’s mobile users will be left behind.

Correction: HTML5 is on track for 2014, not 2020.