Friday, October 7, 2011

Firefox Role In Mobile Era

Mozilla Firefox is one of the world's leading desktop browsers, with almost 450 million users. But, with the increasing use of mobile devices and hand held PDAs, Firefox is in danger of losing its place in smartphones. 68% of all smartphone owners access the mobile web on a typical day.

Why should and what should Mozilla worry about? Apple has Safari running on all its iPhones and iPads. Google has Chrome to run on Android phones. Microsoft has Internet Explorer to run as default on Windows Phones. Firefox has no space to put its browser on.

Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs says "we believe fundamentally there's a place for competition."

Apple controls the user experience from the software (iOS) to the hardware it runs on (iPhone, iPad). RIM and HP followed a similar strategy with BlackBerry and WebOS, respectively. Google, with its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, and Microsoft through its partnership with, or a potential acquisition of Nokia are thinking on similar lines.

Little or no choice on mobile devices means it's hard, if not impossible, to compete. Apple's Safari browser has a minuscule market share on desktop computers. But on Apple's mobile devices, where it comes as the pre-loaded default, Safari dominates the market. "Today, we couldn't put Firefox in its current form on the iPhone," Kovacs says. "We can get on Android, but it's just hard. It's hard to design it into the native levels of the OS to make it as great as we know it can be."

Kovacs envisions a world where you can easily select from a variety browsers on your smartphone, just as you can now on a Windows or Mac desktop. The same should go for all other types of applications--the more choice and competition, the more benefit for consumers.

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