Mozilla finally got around to releasing its first Firefox browser for mobile phones; the new browser went live on Friday on Nokia’s Maemo platform. Firefox 1.0 has some unique features as well as some shortcomings when compared to existing mobile browsers such as Opera Mobile and Opera Mini.
Just like its full-fledged computer version, Firefox for Maemo 5 also comes with third-party customizable extensions that boost the functionality of the browser. This sets the browser apart from both Opera Mobile and Opera Mini. Mozilla highlighted the importance of add-ons for both of its browsers by combining the release of Firefox Mobile with that of its bookmarking and history-syncing extension, Weave Sync 1.0. The extension has been released for both desktop and mobile browsers.
While the add-ons are expected to help popularize the browser, Firefox Mobile has a serious limitation too. It is currently compatible only with Nokia’s open-source, Linux-based Maemo operating system. This limits the browser to only two Nokia models N900 and N810. This severely limits the reach of the new browser. Another limitation is the total lack of support for Adobe’s Flash plug-in; this means users will not have a great experience when trying to view Flash videos or visiting Flash-based websites.
While Mozilla has cited low performance quality of Flash as the reason for the lack of support, it is likely to face an uphill task convincing users. To make up for the gap, Mozilla has released an add-on dubbed YouTube enabler, which allows users to view YouTube videos. The add-on will definitely help You Tube visitors, but for other users are still going to be unhappy.
According to reports, Mozilla is working fast to come up with other options for users who want to see Flash-based content. A point in favor of the browser is that the total number of mobile phone users who have either of the two handsets is a very small proportion of the entire population. So Mozilla has enough time on hand to work out solutions before it releases a more comprehensive version of Firefox Mobile.
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