mobisy.gifNokia (with the S60 web runtime) and Google (with their Gears on Mobile) are not the only companies working on runtimes that allow mobile web sites to access phone features. I came across Mobisy last week, who are developing an ‘on-device web run time’ for mobile handsets called Mobitop.

Mobitop exposes mobile device data such as the phonebook, SMS, camera and location to mobile web applications via simple Javascript APIs. The Symbian version of Mobitop is already available and being deployed while Windows Mobile, iPhone and Java ME versions are currently going through a testing and bug fixing phase.

I was curious how it all works, in particular how can the web browser on a typical phone access the sandboxed Java ME runtime? What talks to what and what’s the role of the Mobitop server? What happens when accessing a web page when the phone hasn’t yet had the runtime installed? Finally, I was curious as to the Mobitop business model.

I was told Mobitop has two components. One is a runtime and the second, the application, is merely a wrapper pointing to the URL. Every application has an individual wrapper but they all share the same runtime, So after you click on the wrapper, Mobitop gets downloaded if it’s not there on the handset already. The Java ME version uses Mobisy’s proprietary AJAX browser rather than phone phone’s built in browser. The browser and runtime communicate directly – the server is only used to maintain security and integrity of the Mobitop applications.

At the moment, the Mobitop license fee is negotiated on a case by case basis. Currently there are 10 Mobile application publishers who use Mobitop. Going forward, they are exploring multiple business models including hosted mobile applications, revenue share and context specific advertisement delivery.

If you want to try it out you can obtain a demo for S60 3rd Edition devices.