mozila phoneMozilla product vice president Jay Sullivan says a major part of the reason why Firefox hasn’t hit iOS is because of Apple’s policy towards third-party web browsers

The non-profit Mozilla, which pulled Mozilla Firefox Home from Apple’s App Store in September 2012, is not currently building a version of its Firefox browser for iOS, nor does the company plan to, said Sullivan, speaking on a mobile browser wars panel at South by Southwest Interactive.

Right now, Apple forces thirty-party browsers like Chrome to use the UIWebView engine to render webpages. Meanwhile, the mobile version of Safari uses the Nitro JavaScript engine, which is a whole lot speedier.

The sticking point for Mozilla is not being able to carry over its sophisticated rendering and javascript engines to iOS. Essentially, the organization doesn’t feel like it can build the browser it wants to for Apple’s platform, Sullivan said.

The decision is a risky one. Sure, Mozilla now has Firefox OS and can attack the mobile browser market with low-end smartphones equipped with its browser, but as it stands, Mozilla holds less than 1 percent of the market, according to NetMarketShare. Apple, meanwhile, commands more than 55 percent of the mobile browser market with Safari.

Of course, Apple’s environment isn’t all that welcoming a place for third-party browsers. The company prevents its users from making any other application the default browser, which makes moving beyond Safari for all of one’s browsing needs nearly impossible.

Still, other mobile browser makers seem to embrace their underdog status and maintain the lofty, altruistic position that they can push the industry forward.

“Competition is critical to our survival,” Dolphin Browser Chief Software Architect David Dehgahn said during the panel.

Sullivan and Opera Software’s Mike Taylor, also on the panel, shared the same viewpoint. They all argued that giving consumers browser choice was essential to making browsers, and the Web in general, great.

And, Sullivan argued, Apple’s closed environment means users suffer.

It’s a viewpoint that the general public might not share. Rosenblatt queried the audience to find out how many people were iOS users, and a majority of hands went up. By contrast, when he asked how many of them were suffering, just a few hands surfaced.

 

Source: CNet News