The development for Firefox can hardly be said to be rapid, with Firefox 4 sitting in beta since last July. Even if the next major release is finished this month - which is looking increasingly unlikely - it'll be well over a year since Firefox 3.6 was released.
However, it looks like this is all going to change in 2011, as Mozilla cracks the whip and starts iterating on a much shorter development cycle. According to the product roadmap, which was updated yesterday, the foundation intends to ship four versions of its flagship browser this year, starting with Firefox 4.
But hard-work and late nights aren't going to be enough to meet these new goals - it'll also require a change to the mindset at Mozilla. The devs will be releasing new technology in smaller bundles in order to reach a regular cadence. They will also be revisiting some of the assumptions that have previously been taken as gospel in an attempt to streamline the development process.
Without these ideological changes, the browser is at serious risk of falling behind the competition in terms of its feature set. However, the team will have to make sure that they don't cut any corners in an attempt to accelerate the release schedule, compromising the quality of their product in the process.
We'd have to assume that this is Mozilla's attempt to keep pace with Google's breakneck six-week release schedule for Chrome. While we're big fans of competition forcing rivals to up their game, it remains to be seen whether the Firefox devs can hold their own against the search-giant's near limitless resources.