Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fennec faces tough competition ahead

I have no doubt in my mind, if we're to talk about the top 5 web browsers for desktop, then Firefox will come up as everybody's favorite.

So when the alpha version of mobile Firefox, known as "Fennec" (which the name refers to a smaller fox type), was released some time ago; mobile users are excited about the news especially Firefox users.

But things would become a whole lot different if it comes to the mobile web browser teritory, the competition in there is already been filled with big names. And that's not all, the thoughest part is that four of the most famous mobile platforms: Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Android & iPhone have bundled in their own mobile web browsers.

And let's not forget, that iPhone still holds the crown with its mobile Safari browser. Maybe Fennec will get a chance to squeeze into the competition through Symbian, which still is the most spread around mobile platform in the world thanks to Nokia's vast handsets line-up. Even with this strategy, Fennec will have to challenge Opera Mini that has been enjoying a comfortable position in Symbian.

So what can Mozilla do to make Fennec as popular as its desktop cousin? Well, for a start there's a leaked info coming out from Jay Sullivan, vice president of mobile at Mozilla. Sullivan told ABC News more about Fennec's capabilities:
  • The novel look and feel of Fennec will boost its popularity.
  • Its controls can be easily accessed but disappear when users don't need them.
  • Using a touch-screen interface, a user drags her finger to the right to reveal open tabs, and to the left to reveal controls such as the back button and the address bar.
  • Awesome Bar; the smart address bar that guesses which page a user wants when she types a letter or two.
  • Weave; a Firefox research project that allows a person to remotely access his desktop Web-browsing history, bookmarks, and other preferences.

Jeffrey Hammond, mobile analyst at Forrester Research also believes that Fennec's performance could make it attractive for makers of mobile operating systems. "Speed is one reason why we've seen Firefox gain share in the enterprise, versus Internet Explorer," Hammond says .

But don't get your hopes too high right now, because one thing for sure is Fennec will not appear soon on the rising star Android platform. Sullivan says that Fennec can't run on Android right now because of the Android Market, where phone software can be downloaded, only accepts programs written in Java. If Android were supportive of applications that could run directly on the operating system without needing to be written in Java, Sullivan says, "then it's interesting for us. We'll have to see which direction Google goes with that."

Sources are from ABC News, via UnwiredView, via BGR.

[blogged with my Treo 750v]

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