Mozilla Firefox, the world’s number two browser, is rapidly rolling out its plans to invade the mobile space as well as the desktop, giving its Fennec project a proper name (Er, Firefox), announcing new platforms and even unveiling a new logo. If you were hoping those new mobile platforms might extend to iPhone OS and BlackBerry OS though, guess again: we’ve just been told they’re way down the pecking order.
It’s five years to the day that Firefox 1.0 was unleashed upon a world sick of Internet Explorer, but a lot has changed in that time, not least the importance and power of mobile web browsing. Firefox for mobile is already available to try out on Nokia Maemo tablets and Windows Mobile, with plans for Symbian and Android to follow, but it looks like the list ends there for the time being.
We asked Mozilla’s European president, Tristan Nitot, whether Firefox for mobile could ever grace the iPhone, and he straight out crushed our hopes and dreams of a rival for mobile Safari.
“The issue is more with Apple than with us because they control the App Store and because they refuse applications which compete with something that is already on the phone. It’s unlikely that we’ll see a version of Firefox running on the iPhone,” he told us.
Mozilla’s so sure the iPhone is a dead end that it’s not even looking into developing a version just in case, he continued: “We’re not investing time and energy in this direction because we’re pretty sure it would be blocked by Apple, so we’re better off using our time in terms of development to do things on open platforms”.
Those open platforms won’t include the BlackBerry OS either, he confirmed to us, despite its desperate need for an efficient, tabbed browser. “[Firefox for mobile] is a modern browser with all the bells and whistles that you’ll find in your desktop browser so you need a powerful operating system such as Android or Maemo or Windows Mobile,” he said. “The list of operating systems we want to support in the mobile world is already pretty long – I guess BlackBerry would be one of the last in our priority list”
Nitot couldn’t give us a timeline for a public release of the Android version of Firefox, but any iPhone owners out there hoping for a bit of competition should Apple ever allow it will have to wait for Opera to get the greenlight, it seems.