updated 05:45 pm EST, Fri December 18, 2009
Firefox Mobile to popularize web apps?
Many of the existing stores have draconian or inconsistent guidelines, or aren't worth the cost of producing a separate version to reach a smaller user base, Sullivan argues to PCPro.
"As developers get more frustrated with quality assurance, the amount of handsets they have to buy, whether their security updates will get past the iPhone approval process... I think they'll move to the web," he explains.
Firefox Mobile is being developed for virtually every smartphone platform that embraces a comparatively unrestricted app environment, including Android, Nokia's Maemo, Symbian and Windows Mobile. It's currently only in beta stage for Maemo phones like the N900 (shown) but will be entirely unavailable on platforms like the iPhone, where Apple's submission rules ban most code interpreters and thus third-party web browsers.
Web apps may still face a difficult road ahead based on user reactions. As a consolation to iPhone developers, Apple in 2007 tried promoting web apps as an alternative to the then-absent support for third-party native software. Most still objected, and whether due to this or other factors Apple launched its App Store a year after the iPhone became available. Since then, having an app store has become essential and has led to tens of thousands of apps being available on most mobile operating systems.