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Government // Mobile & Wireless
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4/24/2008
04:59 PM
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Web 2.0: Firefox Key To Open Mobile Web

Mozilla chairman Mitchell Baker wants developers to bring the same features and functionality to handheld devices that they have to the PC.

Mozilla chairman Mitchell Baker on Thursday called on developers to bring the same features, functionality, and passion to handheld devices as they have to the PC, using the Firefox browser as the model.

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"We should be able to access it, mix it up, mash it up, save it, store it. All of those things should be the same if I am on a laptop or phone, at home or on a train," Baker said during her keynote at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

After 30 years of desktop PCs and 15 years of Web user interfaces, Baker said the rules about what constitutes a "browser" and the "mobile Web" need to be redefined. "The mobile Web should be irrelevant and for most developers it should be irrelevant," she said.

To that end, Mozilla's plans include adding mobile devices to the first class/tier-1 platform set for Mozilla 2, the company's all-in-one open source Internet application suite that comes with a Web browser, e-mail, and newsgroup client. The move will make mobile devices part of Mozilla's core platform.

Mozilla is also developing a version of Mobile Firefox, which can run Firefox extensions on mobile devices. Developers will be able to build rich applications for Mobile Firefox using the Extensible User-Interface Language , or XUL, a markup language based on XML.

"Throughout 2008, you'll see new ideas and experiments," she said.

In one example, Baker noted that searching for a restaurant may be sped up if the device had cached data that can be accessed via a Web browser instead of needing to sync with the Internet. "We can see it's possible," she said. "Firefox will be the fastest, most efficient way to get there."

Despite the dominance of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Firefox has made great progress. IE accounts for about 77% of the market, and Firefox has 16%, according to Internet metrics firm Net Applications.

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