Mozilla is polishing its first version of Firefox for smartphones, and is preparing to launch a release candidate next week with an official debut coming later this month. Codenamed "Fennec" (derived from the Fennec Fox), Firefox Mobile is Mozilla's attempt to claim a chunk of the mobile browser share.

Mozilla's vice president of mobile, Jay Sullivan, claims the feature-rich browser is "almost an operating system." Firefox Mobile currently supports things like geolocation and orientation direction, but even more functionality is on the way. According to Sullivan, the browser will support multitouch displays, haptic feedback, electrolysis, JetPack, WebGL, and the ability to control a camera.

Not to mention that Firefox Mobile and the upcoming Firefox 3.6 are based on the same underlying code, which opens a door unavailable to WebKit-based browsers like Safari Mobile on the iPhone and many others. Firefox Mobile is compatible with many extensions made for its desktop counterpart, for example. Among the 30 or so currently available is AdBlock Plus.

Nokia's unconventional, Maemo-based N900 handset will be the first to receive Firefox Mobile. Nokia is reportedly open to including the browser in the next version of Maemo (due late next year). In the meantime, N900 owners can currently download a beta version by visiting

The Windows Mobile version of Firefox is currently in alpha testing and should be ready in the first half of 2010. An Android version is in development but few details are available.