The Internet's in a bit of a tizzy this morning over reports from a Korean news that Samsung has begun development of its own WebKit-based mobile browser, to be used in future smartphones. ETNews reports that Samsung's browser will be offered as an alternative to Google Chrome on mobile. WebKit, of course, is the open-source software at the core of many mobile and desktop browsers, including Chrome, the native Android browser, and Safari. Today's report says Samsung has recruited several "WebKit professionals" in order to accelerate its browser efforts. The project is said to be based out of the Samsung Information Systems America R&D Center in Silicon Valley.
While this would be a fairly noteworthy development, it's not as big a deal as you might think. Google has been pushing Chrome as the default browser for Android for a while now, and it comes pre-loaded on upcoming phones like the RAZR M and RAZR HD, as well as Samsung's own Galaxy Camera. Samsung's already shown that it wants to foster its own ecosystem rather than relying on Google's. Competing Samsung and Google services are numerous -- Music Hub versus Play Music, Video Hub versus Play Videos and TV, Samsung Apps versus Play Store. So with Google taking the initiative to push Chrome center stage, a reaction from Samsung was only natural.
But today's news is only a natural progression of the work Samsung's been doing on its own native Android browser for the past several years. If you examine the bundled browser on a Samsung phone, you'll find it's quite far from the stock Android browser. Samsung was the first to introduce tiled rendering on Android in the Galaxy S2, and on the Galaxy S3 it offered its own unique tab control and power saving options. Other Android OEMs have done the same, so in a way they all have their own mobile browsers. And with Chrome replacing the stock browser as the default on Android handsets, we wouldn't be terribly surprised to see the likes of HTC and LG follow a similar path.
It's possible Samsung might be developing its browser from the ground up, based upon WebKit, though today's article is light on technical details like this. What we think is more likely is that we'll find Samsung's own S Browser, based upon the speedy stock Jelly Bean browser, made available alongside Chrome on future Samsung Android handsets. And really, that's not all that different from the way things work right now.