It’s no secret that the Mozilla team is looking to expand from desktops and laptops to handhelds. The Firefox browser is popular on the big screen, but Mozilla’s Fennec is poised to challenge on the small screen. And the company’s prototype synchronization service, known as Weave, will bind the web experience together. I looked at Weave in its early prototype and it has come a long way since then — the service syncs bookmarks, passwords and cookies between web clients. Theoretically, Weave will help your browsing experience be continuous whether you’re on your notebook or your handheld. Might that even include your browsing experience on the iPhone? John Lilly, the CEO of Mozilla, didn’t offer specifics, but he did tell Om that there’s a Mozilla app for the iPhone coming soon.
Apple did begin to approve third-party browser applications earlier this year, so a Mozilla browser does have a chance for approval. And that could open the door for the Weave service, as well. Apple’s Mobile Me service doesn’t sync bookmarks or web passwords over-the-air currently, although I suspect these functions could be added in the future. In light of that, I’m thinking we’re about to see Fennec on the iPhone. That’s the simplest explanation, and the simple ones are often right. And there’s a little — admittedly, very little — evidence that the iPhone could be in the mix for Fennec. Digging around the Mozilla wikis, I did find some UI and design bits that specifically show working mockups for the “large format screen (e.g. N810, android, iPhone).”
Mozilla says that these are examples of format and flow, not actual pixel perfect screen shots. But is is interesting that the iPhone is mentioned by name. Come to think of it, it’s equally interesting to see Google’s Android platform mentioned, but that’s another story for another day. And I don’t want to overlook something that Fennec offers over mobile Safari — native support for Flash. Lilly said that we’ll be surprised by what’s coming and I think Flash on a third-party iPhone browser would qualify as such.
The Mozilla wiki page I found hasn’t been updated since December of 2008, so it could well be that Fennec isn’t what’s coming. Mozilla has specifically said that Firefox wouldn’t be on the iPhone. But they never said anything about Fennec — or Weave, for that matter — did they? In any case, we know that something is coming from Mozilla for the iPhone. Got any guesses?