Mozilla aims for mobile browser market

Various phone manufacturers are already using Minimo, a slimmed-down browser for mobile devices, Mozilla project leader says.

Mozilla is hoping to move on from its success in the browser desktop market to tackle browsers on consumer devices such as phones, PDAs and television set-top boxes.

Doug Turner, the project leader of Minimo, the slimmed-down Mozilla browser, said Mozilla hopes to build on the success of Firefox.

"If Firefox is the greatest browser on the desktop, we need the greatest browser on devices and are working hard on it," Turner said.

Turner said there are two mobile phone companies that are already using Minimo. He would not reveal the names of the companies that it is working with, but he said there will be at least one announcement in the near future regarding a partnership with a television manufacturer.

"The focus over the last year and a half has been about going after the phone device and set-top manufacturers--showing them what we can do," Turner said. "We are being used, but companies have kept it quiet."

This industry will be harder to tackle than the desktop browser market, as manufacturers rather than consumers make the choice on which browser to use. "We can showcase things to consumers--to show them what they should get from their phone--but the bigger thing is to show the manufacturers that they can embed Mozilla into their device," Turner said.

Minimo developers have already found a solution to the problem of rendering Web pages on small devices. This feature was included in both version 0.1 and 0.2 of Minimo. Turner said this solution is already better than some products on the market.

"A lot of browsers ignore frames or have limited JavaScript support--they do terrible jobs," he said. "With Minimo, if it renders OK in Firefox, it will render OK in Minimo."

The technology works by shrinking less-important images, such as banner ads, and wrapping columns around to make a single column, so users only need to scroll vertically.

Minimo 0.3, due in January, will include improved Web page navigation for mobile phone users, Turner said. At present, phone users need to linearly tab through every link on the page to get to the right link, but the new technology will let people move between links on the Web page using the arrow keys.

"We have the proof of concept working right," Turner said. "The hard part is working out where the next closest link is--it is a hard math or computer-science problem. You need fuzzy logic."

For this technology to work, mobile phone manufacturers will need to

 

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