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Paving a Path to the Truly Mobile Web: Mozilla Fennec Alpha 1 Released

My back story: I recently got into a friendly argument with some Mobile experts on a RWW Live: Mobile App Development call, I threw on my rosy colored glasses and spoke of a time where the Mobile web browser has access to device features like GPS, Contacts, etc we could leverage what we learned on the web and build even cooler more contextual and helpful Mobile Web apps that worked everywhere… and was told maybe… someday… but for the foreseeable future we’ll be building our apps 20+ times and asking carriers permission to do so (listen to the MP3, really!)… well the news today strikes me well, the glasses are rosy again!

Mozilla has the Vision

Today Mozilla fires the first shots across the bow of the future Mobile web, or as Mitchell Baker and many others put it “One Web.” Today Mozilla launched the first alpha release of Fennec it’s mobile browser that has goals to re-envision how we will use our Mobile device’s simple web browsers.

[Quotes from FennecVision]

Fennec will bring a true Web experience to mobile phones and other non-PC devices, yet take advantage of the specific opportunities for new and useful user experiences enabled by mobility and telephony.

Even in it’s first release it will break huge ground delivering the first of breed access to the device’s GPS and they have goal to do the same across many other device features.

It will integrate smoothly with device features, including easy initiation of phone calls from Web pages, access to local search, maps and directions.

Curing Fragmentation? (ok at least a start)

Fennec will be the mobile Web browser that content and application developers can target to create great software for mobile phones, rather than the plethora of native platforms and programming languages required to reach people in a mobile environment today. Any developer with skills in HTML, CSS and JavaScript will be able to develop for mobile.

Hard to argue with any of this, in my mind aside from the carriers this is the biggest limitation seen today with Mobile development.

Don’t overlook this Mobile Web milestone

This seemingly small browser release will in the future be noted as a milestone in the evolution of Mobile and the Mobile Web. The path this release sets into motion, I believe, will make possible to reuse the years of learning we’ve compiled as the web grew up moving our experiences Mobile with the same rich capabilities of the browser we have on the desktop. On top of that web learning we throw in access to key Mobile features like GPS and likely soon address book and calling… the ability to really build for a users context is now real, making the Mobile web browser the true platform of the future… and delivering, as closely as possible, One Web. A web that sits in the palm of your hand and works seamlessly with your life regardless of your current location or device.

Rosy indeed… -Ben

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