Mozilla is in negotiations with wireless carriers to bring their FireFox Mobile browser to a cell phone near you for the low, low price of nothing, and plans to do so by year's end. If you've never used FireFox on a desktop or laptop computer, you should ? it's a great browser that's extendable in all kinds of useful ways thanks to an open plug-in architecture. Find a Web developer and get 'em talking about the Firebug plug-in: it's the best thing since sliced bread if you need to debug CSS styles on a regular basis.
The funny thing about FireFox Mobile is that because it's free and quite possibly will be really, really good, cellular carriers are probably going to resist it with everything they've got. The Verizon Wirelesses and AT&Ts of the world (or, of the US, anyway) make big money by restricting and directing your cellular Web experience in order to sell you "on deck" offerings via their mobile portals. A full-on Web browse that provides a near-desktop experience could relegate mobile carriers to what's called dumb pipes ? simple conduits for data and not the malls designed to upsell subscribers on everything from callback tones to mobile TV, like they are now.
On the other hand, as the mobile Web becomes more and more ubiquitous here in the States, it only stands to reason that consumers will wise up and demand full Internet access on their handsets. Remember how AOL used to be so popular and mainstream America didn't even know the Web existed beyond America Online's walled garden? Those days are gone, and eventually the days of the walled gardens of cellular providers' WAP portals will be, too. Maybe the carrier that embraces the open Internet by loading a full-fledged browser onto their handsets will wind up being the one that wins consumers in the long run.
I mean, that iPhone thing is pretty popular, and it's got just about the best mobile browser in town, right? Here's hoping FireFox Mobile supports Flash out of the box, though ...
For more on FireFox Mobile, check out the full story on PCWorld.