First With Add-Ons? A Fennec Fact-Check

By  |  Friday, August 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm

The mobile version of Firefox, codenamed Fennec, was released in alpha today for Android 2.0-plus phones and Nokia’s N900.

Announcing the alpha, Mozilla’s Stuart Parmenter says that Fennec is “the first mobile browser to offer add-ons.” Oh really? Android’s Dolphin Browser HD, which launched in May, already offers add-ons, so let’s dig into this claim little bit.

At first glance, the proclamation seems bogus. Here’s a list of Dolphin Browser add-ons already available, and here’s an 8-minute video showing how they can be useful in everyday browsing.

But over on ReadWriteWeb, where several commenters note that Fennec is not the first Android browser with add-ons, Mozilla developer Matt Brubeck explains: Fennec 1.0 was released last January for Maemo, the N900’s operating system, and it supported add-ons back then. It’s true; here’s the announcement from Mozilla on January 29.

“The Mozilla Blog said that Fennec was the ‘first mobile browser to offer add-ons’ (not the first Android browser),” says Brubeck.

Sneaky, considering that the N900 was basically an experiment rather than a consumer-facing product, but accurate and irrefutable nonetheless.

For what it’s worth, Dolphin Browser has more add-ons than Fennec — I count 41 of them, compared to 25 for Fennec — but I imagine that Firefox brand recognition and newfound Android availability is going to jack up Fennec’s add-on count in a hurry. Hopefully, the alpha release will yield some add-ons that are as practical as Dolphin’s collection. (A translator and brightness adjuster seem like critical omissions from Fennec’s library.)

I’m even more optimistic that both Fennec and Dolphin will usher in a new age of mobile web browsing that more closely resembles the desktop thanks to add-ons, regardless of who was first.



2 Comments For This Post

  1. Naruki Says:

    It's a close call. But the browser that the world (all too conveniently) forgets may have come out a week late to take first place:….

    It's still better, though. 🙂

  2. Matt Brubeck Says:

    There are actually 78 add-ons for Fennec available now from… – the 25 that you counted were just from one user's "collection" page.