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Firefox is Coming to Android

Mozilla plans to release Fennec, the mobile version of Firefox, for Nokia’s Maemo, Windows Mobile and Android devices in the near future. In an interview with Om Malik, Mozilla CEO John Lilly also said that Mozilla has fallen behind in the mobile space, as WebKit-based browsers like Safari on the iPhone currently have a large lead, but he is confident that Mozilla can deliver a better browsing experience. Mozilla, according to Lilly, wanted to wait for devices to get to the point where they could handle everything a desktop browser could. Mozilla, however, isn’t likely to develop a mobile version of Firefox for BlackBerry anytime soon.

Fennec, the mobile version of Firefox, which was announced in April 2008, reached its beta earlier this year. At that time, Mozilla was looking into OEM deals with Nokia, Windows Mobile and Symbian. At that time, it was unclear if Mozilla was going to develop a version of Fennec for Android and the browser was only available for the Nokia 810. Since then, the mobile browser market has shifted once again and now Maemo and Android are the prime targets for Fennec.

In the mobile market, Fennec goes up against Opera Mobile and Skyfire, which are available on a wide variety of platforms. The most important competitor, however, is probably Safari, though Apple only makes its browser available on its own phones. Safari may not be available on a large number of different phones, but it has set the bar pretty high when it comes to the user experience that users now expect from a mobile browser. With the Awesome bar and Weave bookmark synchronization, Firefox, however, will offer a number of features that Safari doesn’t currently offer. Fennec will also offer support for plugins.

Om Malik looked at an early version of Fennec on the Nokia N900 and thinks that the browser “is perhaps its single biggest standout feature” on the device.

Mozilla on the iPhone

Earlier last week, a number of rumors about a Mozilla app for the iPhone also started to make the rounds, though it remains unclear what this app would look like. Apple, after all, isn’t likely to allow a full Firefox-based browser on the iPhone.

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