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Mozilla Debuts Firefox Mobile Browser

The alpha version is first spotted on Nokia's Internet tablet, with a Windows Mobile version in the works, while iPhone owners are left out.
Mozilla is giving the public a taste of its Firefox mobile browser, as the company debuted an alpha version of the software for the Nokia N810 Internet tablet.

Code-named Fennec, the browser uses the same technology as the desktop version, including its HTML rendering engine called Gekko. Mozilla said it wants to ensure that the mobile version is not inferior to the version that people use on their home computers.

"What we have said before is that Firefox Mobile will be afforded the same first-class citizen status as the desktop version, and not one version behind like most other Web browser developers do," said Christian Sejersen, mobile director of engineering on Mozilla Mobile, in an interview.

The mobile Firefox will have touch-screen support, and it will be capable of JavaScript and Ajax. The browser is also expected to support multiple plug-in software like Adobe's Flash, and later versions are expected to incorporate the geo-location features that are in the Firefox 3.1 beta.

The company also is working on a browser for Windows Mobile that could be available later this year. Mozilla did not specifically address Symbian, and Mark Finkle, platform evangelist for Mozilla, wrote that there are no current plans to port it to BlackBerry.

The Firefox mobile browser will not be coming to the iPhone because Apple does not let developers put browsers in its App Store. Additionally, Mozilla said it isn't working on a version for Android handsets.

A beta version of Firefox Mobile is expected to be released before the end of the year, and a public version is expected in 2009. The mobile Firefox will find itself in a crowded field when it comes out, as it will be competing with on-deck browsers like Apple's mobile Safari, as well as third-party browsers like Opera Mobile and Skyfire.