Nokia has funded a new mobile phone browser project at Mozilla, giving a boost to the browser company and launching a new front in the battle for the mobile internet.
Minimo is already at pre-alpha stage, and looks like it will be available by Autumn.
Mozilla have had a stormy time in their six years or so of existence, including three mergers and a dwindling market share. However, their new product Firefox has been generating a lot of interest, though nine out of ten surfers still use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
This new browser is a big opportunity for Mozilla: the battle for the most popular mobile phone web browser is still to be won, particularly in the USA where cellphone internet browsing is nascent. Phone browsers have unique technical difficulties to surmount to make them useful – small displays, low bandwidth, less memory, less processing power. Yet despite these hurdles Microsoft, Opera, Fusion, NetClue and many others are fighting to make their own particular browser the market winner.
Up until Firefox, Mozilla browsers were not known for their compact size and speed – their first effort drew howls of derision and claims of bloated code, and so everyone just went back to using IE or Safari.
Hurt by all the shouts of “tubby” and “porker”, the 9mb Mozilla suite hid itself for a few months before appearing back on the scene after a makeover – and as the Firefox browser, it wowed critics with its svelt responsiveness and dedication to web standards, all in less than 5mb.
To be in with a chance at winning the phone web browser beauty contest, Mozilla will have to get the chainsaw out and start slashing away at its codebase.