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Mozilla on Firefox Mobile: All your app store are belong to us!


Oh my... not content with finally being at the stage where they're ready to release a working version of their 'Fennec' mobile web browser (albeit only for the Maemo based Nokia N900 initially), Mozilla seem to be on something of a mad world-domination-power-trip at the same time.

Why? Well, Mozilla have declared that Firefox Mobile will render all existing device application stores redundant as developers shift to developing applications which simply run in your mobile web browser.

Although this is probably the millionth time I've read that web applications will make client applications completely redundant, I'll explore their asseration for the benefit of you, dear DLS reader.

Vice President of Mobile at Mozilla, Jay Sullivan, spoke to PC Pro about application development and raised some valid points. He talked about the relative simplicity of developing in JavaScript and HTML and the benefits of not having to learn the development platform required for a specific mobile or desktop OS. It is valid to say that, featuring the fastest Javascript engine of any mobile browser, some great experiences will be possible with Firefox Mobile.

But I see a problem -- two, in fact.

The first is that the application stores on devices today provide a comprehensive ecosystem around application discovery, rating, management, updates, and much more. Sure, DownloadSquad.com might provide a web application for my device, but if (perish the thought) I don't happen to visit DownloadSquad.com, how do I stumble upon it?

How do I know if my peers think it is a good application? Once it's on my device, how do I update to new versions? Of course, many of these things would in fact be possible for web applications if the delivery mechanism (i.e. Firefox Mobile) chose to implement them, but if they do, then they are effectively just writing an app store of their own.

Or is that the plan?

The second problem is the difference between web application functionality, look, and feel versus that of a native application. If I look at the range of applications installed on my Android device I see lots of functionality that simply cannot be replicated in a JavaScript web application today. I see use of accelerometers, light sensors, cameras, LED lights, GPS and network location, device and platform specific functionality and a whole host of deeply OS integrated features that simply can't be provided without either a native application or a JavaScript to native intermediary layer such as Titanium Mobile from Appcelerator.

Add to that the fact that many of the applications use sliders, switches, notifications and other custom UI elements to provide an integrated user experience and I think we have 2 very compelling reasons why web applications for mobile aren't going to take over the world any time soon.

Firefox Mobile is likely to be an excellent browser with many ground breaking features such as Extensions, syncing your desktop and mobile profiles and bookmarks etc., but I wouldn't give up on your current application store of choice just yet.

[via PCPro]

Tags: android, android market, AndroidMarket, app store, Appcelerator, AppStore, fennec, firefox, firefox mobile, FirefoxMobile, iphone, JavaScript, mobileminute, Titanium Mobile, TitaniumMobile, windows mobile, windows mobile marketplace, WindowsMobile

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