Fennec future tied to Android and LiMo

My hope is that the capabilities of Fennec, and the iPhone, will increase popular demand for affordable mobile access, which is what open spectrum is about. But, compared to the Internet time we're used to, it will all happen in slow motion.

Mobile Mozilla from Kemp Mullaney
The fate of Fennec Fox, the code-name for Mozilla's mobile browser, is tied closely to that of the Android and LiMo phones now under development. (Picture from Kemp Mullaney.)

First releases of Fennec are due in September with a final release expected late this year. The accelerated schedule is possible because the mobile browser shares the code base of Firefox 3, released yesterday.

As Matt notes today, Apple likely won't let Fennec on the iPhone, and older phones just can't run a true browser. Web traffic from phones like the Razr is a tiny fraction of that from the iPhone.

The LiMo and Android phones, like the iPhone, are due to be mobile Internet clients, not really phones at all. They need wide pipes, not the skinny pipes mobile carriers now allow for selling discrete bits of data like ringtones, wallpapers and SMS.

Given the prices carriers get for tiny files on mobile phones it's amazing they would dare allow mobile Internet clients to exist. But Apple forced open the market, linking to AT&T, Verizon must respond or be buried, and so we have our chance.

Right now Verizon seems geared to supporting only LiMo and the Android, while technically capable of working on any network, will be a Sprint offering. (Google's deal to build out WiMax with Clearwire and Sprint is a guarantee of that.)

What this means is that the launch of Fennec will be nothing like the recent Firefox 3 launch.

  1. Its release date will be that of the Android and, perhaps LiMo.
  2. The hardware's user interface will determine the popularity of the software.
  3. Competition in this end of the browser market will be tied to the fates of Verizon and Sprint, not the browser itself.

Until we get open spectrum and true competition, this is the way the mobile market will work. My hope is that the capabilities of Fennec, and the iPhone, will increase popular demand for affordable mobile access, which is what open spectrum is about.

But, compared to the Internet time we're used to, it will all happen in slow motion.

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