ABI Research has calculated that 3.8 billion mobile handsets will contain mobile web browsers by 2015. That's slightly more than 60% of all mobile phones in 2015… and is double today's penetration of mobile browsers. In addition, the number of full internet browsers is expected to exceed that of proxy-based browsers in 2012.
Mark Beccue, senior analyst at ABI Research, said "Mobile browsers are evolving along two paths. On one hand, highly sophisticated browsers, which we are calling full internet browsers, will be found in all smartphones and a growing number of enhanced (or feature) phones. Such devices can host these browsers because they have advanced application processors, expanded memory capacity and adequate screen size and resolution. These full Internet browsers typically require about 64 Mb of memory to run. A real key to the growth of full Internet browsers in higher-end feature phones is the falling cost of sophisticated applications processors. But there is also a second path. Parallel to this development, a new family of browsers has emerged: the proxy-based (or client-server or compression) browser, which is epitomized by the Opera Mini. These browsers move some caching and processing off the phone to a nearby server, allowing the browser to run on lower-cost processors and requiring as little as 4 Mb of memory. That means these browsers can be used on even the lowest-cost phones."