A major factor in the land-grab that is currently underway for the hearts and minds of the mobile Internet consumer will be browsers, just as they were for the static Internet in the 90s.
Mozilla - makers of the popular open-source browser Firefox - has announced the launch of the mobile version of its browser - codenamed Fennec (a big-eared fox) - initially on Nokia's Linux-based platform for high-end mobile phones: Maemo.
This means that unless you have a Nokia N900 you won't get to play with it yet, as pretty much all other web-enabled Nokia phones run on the Symbian OS. Luckily for you, we do.
We can report that the browser is easy to download onto the N900, although Mozilla could have done with making the download link a bit easier to find. In the brief time available to us on a busy Monday morning, we found that Firefox loads up the HEXUS.channel site at least twice as quickly as the browser pre-installed on the phone. This is especially intriguing since the Maemo browser is powered by Mozilla technology.
Among the other notable features of Firefox for Mobile - as Mozilla seems to be calling it, rather than Fennec - is something called Weave Sync, which can sync your mobile browser with your desktop one. There are also mobile-specific things like location-aware browsing.
This looks like a promising early salvo from Mozilla as it positions itself to take on the likes of Microsoft and Google for mobile browser supremacy. In the two photos below, you can see it at work on our N900, with the second image showing the navigation side-bar that you reveal by moving the browser window to the side.
Ironically, the next to OSs to run Firefox for Mobile will be Windows Mobile - currently in alpha - and Android - yet to be released. Mozilla currently has no plans to release Firefox for Mobile for the iPhone, Blackberry or Symbian OSs.