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HTML5-enabled phones to hit 1 billion in sales in 2013

Sales of HTML-compliant smartphones and feature phones will jump to 1 billion in just two years from 336 million this year, according to Strategy Analytics.

HTML5-compatible mobile phones will reach sales of 1 billion in 2013, up from just 336 million this year, says research firm Strategy Analytics.

That 1 billion number refers specifically to phones whose mobile browsers fully or at least partially support HTML5, such as the iPhone 4S and Android phones. And it includes some feature phones as well as smartphones.

"We expect almost all smartphones to support HTML5 by 2013 and this makes up the largest chunk of the 1 billion total," Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston told CNET yesterday. "Android, iOS, and other smartphone OSes already support HTML5 today. However, HTML5 will not be confined only to smartphones and it will eventually trickle down to mass-market feature phones in the longer-term."

The growth in HTML5 phones is being fueled by hardware vendors and mobile developers looking to cook up rich media apps that can run across multiple platforms. Included in that mix are such companies as Apple, Adobe, Google, and Microsoft.

As the industry moves toward HTML5, Adobe itself recently announced that it was pulling the plug on a mobile version of its Flash Player to focus on the new flavor of HTML for mobile devices.

"HTML5 is now universally supported on major mobile devices, in some cases exclusively," Adobe said last month. "This makes HTML5 the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers."

Strategy Analytics also sees HTML5 as a critical component driving a cross-platform LTE cloud-based platform slowly building among mobile carriers, device makers, auto manufacturers, and Web developers. Ultimately, HTML5 will allow content from mobile phones, tablets, notebooks, desktops, TVs, and even cars to come together via the cloud.

However, it won't all be smooth sailing.

HTML5 is still an evolving technology and it isn't expected to be officially approved by the World Wide Web Consortium until 2014.

Calling HTML5 a "relatively immature technology," Strategy Analytics director Thomas Kang said that it still offers limited APIs (application programming interfaces) and feature sets compared with native apps that run on Apple's iOS or Android.

"It will require several years of further development and standards-setting before HTML5 can fully mature to reach its potential as a unified, multi-platform content-enabler," Kang added.