It's Opera vs. Firefox in the Battle of Independents

Opera showed off a version of its browser for the iPhone (though officially no third party browsers are on the iPhone) that it will demo in Barcelona next week. Hopefully Apple will allow other browsers to be made available on the iPhone and iPad -- or risk an anti-trust issue (see Microsoft and its history with IE). This one-browser-only policy will especially become a problem for Apple if the iPad sells briskly. 

Regardless, and notwithstanding the presence of Skyfire and Dolphin and one or two more providers, the battle of the independent mobile browsers is going to come down to Opera (the incumbent) and Firefox (the insurgent).

I got a demo of Firefox mobile on the N900 from Mozilla's Jay Sullivan last Friday. I know Jay from his PocketThis days (subsquently bought by CallGenie) but he's much in demand as the head of mobile development at Mozilla. I was impressed with what I saw and won't do a review of its features right now. But Firefox's installed base of millions of users globally and the "weave" capability -- am add-on that enables your browser, tabs and bookmarks to be accessed from any device -- will be strategic advantages. The PC-mobile crossover will be huge for Firefox as it comes onto Android, WinMo (already there) and other platforms. 

Opera is well established and just crossed the 50 million user threshold. So it has a big head start. But the company has limited presence on the PC side, which may enable Firefox as it rolls out more smartphone versions to catch up relatively quickly. 

Picture 39