Mozilla’s mobile browser is due to begin its alpha stage before the end of the year, according to CEO John Lilly. Code-named Fennec, the mobile version of Firefox has a rapidly raising bar to meet and exceed if they want to establish the same presence they’ve managed on the desktop. The success of full touchscreen devices are hinging largely on the browsing experience, and with competitors like Opera Mobile getting preloaded on the likes of the HTC Touch HD, there’s a definite niche to fill.
Microsoft’s Deepfish project was canned not too long ago, opting to stick with Internet Explorer for Windows Mobile. Maybe Deepfish wasn’t getting much traction, but the looming threat of Firefox and existing preeminence of Opera might have prompted The Big M to be a little more cautious with their mobile browsing strategy.
Previous forcasts for Firefox Mobile had put a full public release around 2010, which sounds right if you give alpha and beta stages about 7 months a pop to ferment. How well Mozilla does on mobile will depend largely on their open source game.
“Device manufacturers are interested in open-source solutions where there is a desire for increased control of their software footprint, and where they can bring internal programming resources to bear… At the same time, vendors such as Opera are seeing strong growth in their mobile browser offerings, which provide the ability to access Web pages with advanced features such as zoom, bookmark syncing, and landscape mode, while also permitting handset vendors and operators to focus development resources elsewhere,” [says ABI Research director Michael Wolf].