Browser makers focus on Android and MeeGo

Firefox looks ahead to cloud era, Skyfire claims Flash enhancement

Nokia and Google are hastening the shift of the mobile world from downloads to browsers and cloud services, and the mobile browser specialists are along for the ride. Both Mozilla and Skyfire have indicated their strategies for the next generation of web services in the past few days.

Mozilla, creator of Firefox, came late to the mobile platform with Fennec, but is justifying that, saying it is really focused on the second, and more important, wave of the market, when the browser lies at the heart of the user experience. “We are in the first inning of the mobile browser game,” Jay Sullivan, VP of products, told Om Malik of GigaOM.

As such, the firm is not bothering with every mobile OS, but focusing on those it sees as modern drivers of the new way of working. These, it believes, are MeeGo and Android. Its first release of Firefox Mobile, aka Fennec, was on the Nokia N900, running MeeGo’s predecessor Maemo. It will introduce an Android browser later this year and Sullivan knows it will have a tough job to steal share from native browsers, as well as market leader Opera. “We have the brand recognition for people to try us on Android, but to succeed we have to do better than native browsers.” Weapons will include the famous Awesome Bar, plus desktop synchronization and other add-ons.

Meanwhile, Skyfire has upgraded its Android browser, promising an enhanced Flash video viewing experience. It enables Flash by transcoding video files into HTML5 and optimizing them for mobile delivery. In a series of tests conducted by Skyfire, it claims users could watch twice as many minutes of video per hour, and gain 30% more battery life, compared to a native version of the new Flash 10.1 for Android.

Skyfire launched its Android product in April and now boasts 500,000 new users. CEO Jeff Glueck said in a statement: “The content that matters changes each day and runs across millions of ‘long tail’ sites. Skyfire users don’t need to wait for a Wi-Fi connection to enjoy great video.”

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