The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

So Mozilla has released Firefox 3, and the browser's marketshare has been steadily increasing to the 43.7% is has now.

It will be interesting to see whether or not Firefox will continue to expand as quickly when its marketshare starts to near 50%. There are a lot of users out there who don't know that there is an alternative to Internet Explorer. And even those who do know that there is an alternative might not care because Internet Explorer "works" and is "good enough." This is more understandable with IE7 with its new features than IE6, which lacks some more basic features such as tabbed browsing. This is not to say that there aren't Internet Explorer users who actually realize the alternatives but choose to use IE because they prefer it, however. It will be interesting to see whether members of these groups switch to Firefox, making its marketshare continue to increase, or if Firefox will start to come to a "critical momentum," so to speak, and balance around a certain percentage. If internet access becomes available in more developing nations, the use of Linux and therefore possibly Firefox could also have an interesting effect on this dynamic.

But there is more to the future of Mozilla than the expanding marketshare of Firefox. There are other ways to expand as well.

Currently, it would seem that in the world of browsers, Mozilla is targeting the mobile platform with a mobile version of Firefox, codenamed "Fennec."

Through Fennec, Mozilla hopes to bring their standards-based browser to their mobile platform and make it so that device manufacturers as well as individuals (in some cases) can embed the browser on their devices. Mozilla also wants to make it so that the mobile version of Firefox is add-on capable, just like the regular Firefox browser for the desktop. This would help to enlarge the Mozilla community in the mobile market (and compete with Opera Mini). Mozilla also wants to help web developers with making web applications compatible with the browser and use developments from the project to benefit the desktop version as well.

Mozilla wants to make Fennec able to browse the web and access web apps the way they are meant to be viewed. They also want to make it so that developers don't have to go out of their way just to design a page or app that works well with the browser, which would be great. They want to make mobile browsing simple and fast. This is something that has proven hard for the developers of browsers for mobile phones. Simple tasks such as entering a URL or refreshing a page can be exceedingly difficult at times. Like the desktop versions of Firefox, Mozilla hopes to keep the mobile version secure to ensure that phones are not hacked and information taken from them.

Mozilla plans on using their leverage in the desktop market to try to make people aware of Fennec and why it is better than the other mobile browsers already available.

One interesting element is that Fennec is to be compatible with both touchscreen and standard phones, and be relatively easy to use on both.

Those with a Nokia N810 can already get Fennec on their phones through the Fennec Releases page. It is worthy of noting that this version is far from complete, and is definitely lacking in the UI and usability improvements that Mozilla hopes to have in the final version. The current version does however show how well the backend of Fennec works, and the browser is still technically impressive (although not really ready for general use and release; Mozilla will likely do what it does with its other products and not release the browser until they are sure it's ready).

It is my hope that Mozilla also explores opportunities in other areas. Mozilla has always had a commitment to supporting open source, and I hope they continue to honor that commitment in the future.

It is also my hope that Mozilla starts offering web services such as online bookmarking that can be used across multiple browsers and other services. Perhaps Mozilla, with their significant marketshare and strong support, could even take on the giants like Google and Microsoft in online services with the help of its large base of web developers. I know that I would gladly contribute to such a project by Mozilla to make such a change.

The future of open-source web browsing awaits us. And it's looking like a bright future.


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