Mozilla to debut Firefox for iPhone 'soon'

Job listings say, 'a new Firefox for iOS … arriving soon'

mozilla firefox san francisco

Mozilla's San Francisco office

Credit: Al Sacco

Mozilla will introduce Firefox for Apple's iPhone "soon," according to a company announcement of an open marketing position.

As the senior mobile marketing manager, the candidate will "lead marketing for Firefox on both Android and iOS," the listing stated, adding that "a new Firefox for iOS application [will be] arriving soon."

Firefox on iOS Mozilla

An early rendition of Firefox on iOS features a "tab tray" that shows open sites in a vertical orientation. (Image: Mozilla.)

Other jobs available at Mozilla also called out Firefox on iOS, including one for a senior product manager and software engineer.

Mozilla, which had previously staunchly declined to create a version of its iconic browser for iOS, changed its tune last December, when a company manager said that the open-source developer would "get Firefox on iOS."

Although Mozilla confirmed that it was working on Firefox for iOS, at the time it gave no hint of a timeline. "We are in the early stages of experimenting with something that allows iOS users to be able to choose a Firefox-like experience," Mozilla said in a Dec. 2 blog.

The phrase "Firefox-like experience" was crucial: Apple allows only those browsers into the App Store that are built atop its own rendering and JavaScript engines, WebKit and Nitro, which power Safari. Mozilla relies on its own technologies for both. Firefox on iOS, then, will be a user interface (UI) layer atop WebKit and Nitro.

Mozilla's Github repository for iOS Firefox confirmed that.

The reasons for Mozilla's renewed interest in iOS likely stemmed from Firefox's decline in browser user share. Over the last 12 months, Firefox has shed 31% of its desktop user share by metrics vendors' Net Applications count, and now has less than half the share of Google's Chrome.

Mozilla has put its shoulder behind other mobile initiatives. But Firefox OS, an open-source mobile operating system based on the browser, has not yet gained significant traction and its Firefox browser for Android hasn't moved the needle. According to Net Applications, Firefox's usage share on mobile was just 0.7% last month, or about one sixty-sixth that of Safari.

Apple's iOS, while far behind Android in shipments, has long had a reputation as the operating system that generates the largest share of mobile browsing. Mozilla would like to tap into that ecosystem if it could.

According to Techcrunch, which last week also reported that Mozilla would soon debut Firefox for the iPhone, Mozilla will launch a marketing campaign next month to get more people using its browser. The publication also said that Li Gong, Mozilla's president, and Rick Fant, who heads its mobile group, are leaving the firm.

This story, "Mozilla to debut Firefox for iPhone 'soon'" was originally published by Computerworld.