In a perhaps long overdue move, Mozilla has announced a new initiative to bring Mozilla to the mobile web, including a fully functional mobile version of Firefox. In a blog post Wednesday, Mozilla VP of engineering Mike Schroepfer announced that the official mobile version of Firefox will ship in late 2008 – well after Firefox 3 for the desktop – with full support for XUL (Mozilla's native interface framework for building skins and applications), plus the ability to run extensions.
The user demand for a full browsing experience on mobile devices is clear, perhaps driven by the adoption of the iPhone and its Safari browser, which is able to render full web pages instead of mobile or WAP versions. Another option is Opera, which has had a long-standing mobile browsing effort, with popular products including Opera Mini and Opera Mobile.
But will it be too late for Firefox to compete with Safari and Opera? Personally, I think if Mozilla achieves for its mobile browser the same level of extensibility and customization it has in the desktop space, through a vast collection of community-developed add-ons, then Firefox for mobile devices will definitely be a winner. We’ll have to wait and see.