Firefox browser going mobile

Wow, here is great news for those of us who love the Firefox browser on Windows, Mac and Linux. Thanks to TelecomTV for the news:

12/10/2007 10:00:00 – by Andrew Beutmueller
Perhaps inspired by the proliferation of wireless broadband as well as rival Google’s mobile moves of late, the world’s third favorite web browser, Mozilla Firefox, announced this week that it is also working on a mobile browser of its own.

The goal of the project is to offer a “Mobile Firefox” version that will allow loyal users to run Firefox extensions on mobile devices as well as enable XUL builds of open applications.

Strategically leaked by vice president of Mozilla Mike Schroepfer on his blog this week, the company is reportedly “serious about bringing the Firefox experience and technology to mobile devices.”

To get the project off the ground, Mozilla has hired two new ranking eggheads; Formerly in charge of browsers at Openwave, Christian Sejersen will lead the Mozilla Mobile platform engineering team and set up an R&D center in Copenhagen, and France Telecom’s former R&D executive Brad Lassey (who has for some time been an “active contributor” to the mobile effort) will now officially work fulltime on the project.

There are apparently several reasons why Firefox is now going seriously mobile.
Firstly, the Mozilla user family is hovering around the 100 million user mark and is clamoring for a mobile product.

Likewise, the company enjoys a “large and passionate” open source development community also raring to improve what they consider a “closed and fragmented mobile platform.” They have a point. Hardware evolution is also a major point for Mozilla according to Schroepfer.

“The iPhone has 128MB of DRAM and somewhere between a 400 to 600 MHz processor” … and “rapid improvements in mobile processors will close this gap within a few years.

Intel has recently re-entered this market which will keep things interesting. Most exciting of all ARM has announced that by 2010 devices will be shipping with a processor 8x faster than what’s in the iPhone!” he explains in his blog.

Mozilla is no stranger to mobile web browsing software. In fact its so called “Minimo” experimental mobile web browser for use on Windows-based mobile phones has been out since mid-2006. The Minimo project, which will now be put on ice, served to provide the mobile development team with “valuable information about how Gecko operates in mobile environments, has helped us reduce footprint, and has given us a platform for initial experimentation in user experience,” according to Schroepfer.

Users can also currently download a Mozilla-based browser for the Nokia N800, which is an integral player in the Ubuntu Mobile and the new Intel Internet Project, and most recently ARM has put serious effort towards Firefox on mobile devices.

Then there is the never to be productised “Project Joey”; an open source application that works with the Firefox browser, enabling users (and these have got to be pretty dedicated nerds) to transfer web content to their mobiles across the so called “Joey Server,” which transcodes the content for use on a mobile phone browser.

There is no word yet on what handsets Mozilla Mobile will be run on nor exactly when it will be released – “certainly not before 2008” anyway.

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