Mozilla’s Firefox web browser is a serious competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, despite initial skepticism from techies that anyone could break the stranglehold Microsoft had developed on the browser business. Sure, it helps that Firefox is “partnered” with the mega-giant Google for some financial backing, but it takes a big shield to stop a big club.

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Firefox Mobile

Mozilla’s Firefox web browser is a serious competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, despite initial skepticism from techies that anyone could break the stranglehold Microsoft had developed on the browser business. Sure, it helps that Firefox is “partnered” with the mega-giant Google for some financial backing, but it takes a big shield to stop a big club.

Although only about 20 percent of internet users use the Firefox browser, many of those users are the serious internet surfers. Those in the industry almost universally prefer the open source app to the Microsoft browser.

So when Mozilla announced in 2008 that they would soon release a mobile version of their browser, they generated some buzz. There were some stutter steps with the first versions, but as with all Firefox products, the bugs get worked out pretty quickly.

The latest release is Fennec Alpha 1, and it has been revamped with a CSS user interface. What does this mean? Well, even though the browser only works on Windows Mobile Smart Phones like the HTC Touch Pro currently, the CSS interface means that it will be easily adapted to a wide range of different devices, unlike the original version.

So, if you have another operating system on your phone, no fear. Firefox is making use of  that CSS based interface to create mobile browsers for other systems. Recently, a Firefox official noted that Symbian phones make up nearly half of the smartphone sales, so Firefox will need to “have a presence on the Symbian platform.” So expect a Symbian version to be officially announced in the near future.

Still, there are plenty of other smartphone owners who prefer Firefox as a browser – will Fennec be coming soon to an iPhone near you? Probably not – and you android users need not hold your breath, either.

Firefox officials cite licensing and technical issues that prevent them from developing Fennec for iPhone, RIM and Android. Still, it will be great to see if all the things we love about the PC Firefox browser are integrated into Fennec quickly enough for them to gain a big market share.

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