Companies including Mozilla, Opera Software, Palm and Sony Ericsson are trying to accelerate the use of web standards when developing applications for smartphones.
For this vision to become a reality, developers need easy-to-use tools, and in that space a lot of things are happening.
On Saturday, HP demonstrated Enyo, an upcoming framework for webOS, which is used on Palm smartphones, at its webOS Developer Day. Enyo is designed to make it easier to develop applications for smartphones and tablets at the same time, according to HP.
It isn't just established companies that are making the web vision a reality on smartphones. Sony Ericsson's WebSDK Packager tool is based on the PhoneGap open source framework, which was created by Nitobi.
The tool will be free for open source projects; pricing details for commercial applications will be announced as the public launch nears.
However, Nitobi's hope is that what the company is doing today on PhoneGap will eventually be folded into the browser, according to Brian LeRoux, chief software architect at Nitobi, who took part in a panel discussion on cross-platform development at HP's developer day.
For the browser to take over, applications need to offer the same experience as native applications and browsers will have to be compatible with each other. The point when that becomes a reality is close, according to Charles Jolley, creator of the SproutCore open source framework, who also took part in the panel discussion.
Ex-Apple employee Jolley has also founded Strobe, whose goal is to make SproutCore easier for developers to use.
Compatibility between different browsers is not the issue, thanks to the fact that they are all based on Webkit, and the differences that do exist are going away, according to Jolley. However, smartphones are still very memory and resource constrained and, historically, browsers have not been geared to working in that type of environment. But that is also changing, he said.