NetFront– the Unknown Browser Everyone Owns

Image Source: Wikimedia

NetFront is a web browser that I hadn’t heard of before, but I have installed on six of my devices.

It is a WebKit-based proprietary web browser that apparently is installed on nearly every non-Microsoft video game console since 2011. Go further back, Sony Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable (PSP) had a version of NetFront running on it back in 2005.

So doing some crude estimation for an install base:n

That gives us a rough total of 209.5 Million NetFront users out there that are playing games and could possibly be looking to surf the web with their devices. In all likely hood, likely for video game information being that video game media is generally distributed through the web in some way or another.

It should be noted, that the 200M major video game consoles with NetFront running on it. That doesn’t include all the other devices that include “digital TVs, set-top boxes, game consoles, car navigation systems and In-vehicle Infotainment (IVI) devices” (REFERENCE).

The Frustration

When I use one of my game consoles to browse the web, I’m generally looking up video game content and heading to IGN, GameTrailers, or Giant Bomb, or Twitch.

But, their sites don’t appear to work.

On the PS4, I get “Not Enough Memory” errors when I login to Twitch. I can watch it, but only if I’m not logged in.

That makes sense.

Or Giant Bomb or GameTrailers, where their videos just won’t load on the Wii U or PS4.

Video game websites not running on video game consoles. I realize it’s not everyone’s web platform of choice, but doesn’t seem kinda obvious that this should work?

At first I blamed the sites, thinking that they were all going for the app approach like IGN. But, that seems like a very difficult road to go down considering the number of app platforms there are already.

But, in looking to figure out how to develop for these platforms, I found a lack of resources available. Sure there are ways of detecting, but there aren’t any developer guides for the platforms like IE for Xbox One and Xbox 360

The Point

Honestly, I’m not sure. I just wanted to share it because it blew me back when I found out that there was another browser out there that was really relevant in my world.

I just find that web browsing through an appliance like a Playstation or an Xbox makes sense. Sure there is always the idea of putting a PC right on your TV, but maybe that isn’t the answer.

Thanks for playing. ~ DW



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