Mozilla's mobile gap: How bad is it?

Mozilla's mobile gap: How bad is it?

Summary: Even with a native Android browser on deck, there's a good argument to be made that Mozilla is already too late.

TOPICS: Browser, Mobility

Mozilla's beta of its Android browser is on the runway with an undetermined amount of taxiing before take-off, but it may be time to worry about the organization's relevance amid the sea of tablets and smartphones.

That's the gist of a report from CNET's Stephen Shankland. His main argument is that the clock is ticking on Mozilla and every minute of delay---potentially six weeks---matters.

I agree that every minute counts, but there's a good argument to be made that Mozilla is already too late. Among the key challenges ahead for Mozilla on the mobile front:

  1. An Android-native Firefox requires a download. You have to find it. Android's browser is good enough that most folks won't bother with Firefox. I wanted to sync my desktop and mobile histories and browsers so went for it. After a while though, my usage fell.
  2. Mozilla has to bet on Android. Android's market share is gaudy, but it's unclear whether it'll stay that way. Apple has been doing well and if you assume Microsoft Windows Phone can thrive there's only one place for Android market share to go---down.
  3. It's unclear whether Mozilla can change the mobile game. Browser performance matters, but I can't help but notice that Google's Chrome and Microsoft's IE has pushed Mozilla not the other way around. What evidence is there that Mozilla can pull a mobile leapfrog?

Those challenges aside, I'm hoping Mozilla's Android Firefox delivers, but color me skeptical at this point.

Topics: Browser, Mobility

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  • Why can't Mozilla release an iPhone version?

    When I search the app store I see a lot of different alternate browsers. I don't see Firefox and your article makes no mention of Mozilla planning on releasing a Firefox version. Considering that Apple actively embraces competing browsers on iOS, why isn't Firefox there? For that matter, why isn't Opera there? And Chrome?

    Wait a second. Something funny is going on here. None of the world's major browsers are on iPhone. Why not?
    • RE: Mozilla's mobile gap: How bad is it?

      @toddybottom_z <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>
      • Fascinating

        In other words, there are no alternate browsers on iOS, only alternate skins to Safari. In fact, it is even worse than that since your link suggests that only Safari gets access to javascript optimizations so all the alternate browsers on iOS are actually alternate skins to an unoptimized version of Safari.

        I seem to remember a while ago MS getting in trouble for using optimizations in Windows so that Word would work better than any competing word processors from other companies. That Apple is using optimizations in iOS so that Safari works better than any competing browser from other companies is just as anti-competitive a move. No wonder Safari has something like 90% of the mobile web traffic. Competing browsers aren't allowed to compete.
      • RE: Mozilla's mobile gap: How bad is it?

        "No wonder Safari has something like 90% of the mobile"
        Care to provide a link?
  • The browser in Ice Cream Sandwich syncs with Chrome

    And it's about time.

    So why would I bother with Firefox on Android?
  • RE: Mozilla's mobile gap: How bad is it?

    I'm a bit confused by this article.

    I loaded Firefox on my Android phone and tablet on the day I received them.

    Both were available free on the Android Market and both work fine.

    When I first downloaded them it was because the native Android browser didn't have multiple tabs, which is no longer true.

    I still like Firefox better than the native browser and find no issues with installing it, so why do you think Mozilla is so behind the power curve?
    • Right, it should be: How viable is Mozilla mobile?

      @sbf95070 now that the stock Android browser includes all of the same features.