Firefox For Android Tablets Rears its Head


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While it's certainly not ready for prime time, the developers at Mozilla have offered something of a beta test/sneak peak at their upcoming Firefox build for various tablets. Found in the Firefox Nightly build testing section of Mozilla, the program is definitely in its testing stage, but it gives testers a good idea of what they can expect when the official launch hits.

At this point in time, Firefox for Tablets is still rough around the edges and has a lot of kinks and bugs to be resolved before the general public receives it. Of course, if the general public wants to test their bug-finding skills, they, too can download the Firefox for Tablets build. While there are other mobile devices listed in the Firefox Nightly section, a blog post by Firefox developer Lucas Rocha indicates the Android tablet environment is the intended recipient, at least in regards to tablet computing:

First of all, you can simply install Fennec’s nightly build on your Android tablet and give us some thoughtful feedback on the UI. File bugs for the missing bits from the planned design, report interaction problems, let us know about broken bits, etc.

As indicated, there are downloads available for both desktop and mobile environments, including Apple, but apparently, the tablet being targeted comes courtesy of the Android OS; specifically, the Honeycomb version.

An article at CNet references Safari's dominance in the mobile browser industry, which is no doubt reinforced by proliferation of the iPhone. In fact, in the mobile industry, over half of the users who use mobile devices to browse do so with Safari, which represents a massive difference between the mobile and desktop versions. Consider this, according to the browser statistics over at NetMarketShare, only 5.01 percent of desktop surfers used Safari in August, 2011.

Meanwhile, over 50 percent of these same users navigated with Internet Explorer.

Furthermore, the data shows that Apple was (and still is) a niche company in relation to home computing, but when it comes to the mobile industry, their role as a major industry player is reversed. With home computing, Windows machines are the dominant choice in regards to hardware and use, while Apple still occupies its expensive niche. On the mobile industry side of things, these positions are almost completely reversed. For mobile users, Safari is far and away the dominant browser, which is something Apple never even got close to in the home computing market.

Apparently, all Apple needed to do is shrink their technology and wrap it up in a touchscreen-powered bow.

Digression aside, will the introduction of Firefox to the tablet market make a dent in Safari's current dominance? While tablet growth is indeed on the upswing, only about eight percent of the U.S. population are tablet owners. With that in mind, Firefox probably won't put a dent in Safari's mobile market share, especially when Safari comes already installed on Apple's mobile devices and Firefox must be downloaded and installed.

Much like the built-in benefit Internet Explorer enjoys in the home computing market, Apple receives the same boost with Safari when it comes to the mobile industry.