I’ve been thinking a lot about how web browsers have become the central strategy for much of Web 2.0 and the Mobile 2.0. Cloud computing is the next major step for many tech companies’ strategic roadmap including IBM. One of the biggest contributors to this surge is Mozilla’s Firefox web browser.
Why has Firefox surged to the top? Two things. Add-ons/extensions, and tabbed browsing. I cannot even imagine browsing the web without these innovations. Those two simple ideas have made my online experience a sheer joy. My top ten add-ons include: del.icio.us, Foxmarks, Adblock, Google Browser Sync, Google Gears, Google Notebook, Operator, Greasemonkey, Firebug, and User Agent Switcher.
The upcoming FIrefox 3 also promises new innovations to make browsing even more simpler and useful. The aptly named “Awesome Bar” is indeed awesome. You just start typing in anything that you’ve accessed in your browser URL, and it comes up with possible suggestions. Unlike type-ahead, the suggestions you get can come from any position in the URL (not just the first n characters). Also, the performance and security enhancements are much needed as pre-Firefox-3 browsers had started to become slow. I remembered the primary reason that I had switched from IE to Firefox back in the day was because Firefox 1.0 was so much faster than IE 6.0. Performance is as much part of the user experience as UI. You can have the prettiest user interface, but if the user has to wait longer to get their information, they will perceive the product as crap.
Mozilla’s next phase is to rule the mobile browser space. The space is already crowded with the likes of Webkit, Opera, Pocket IE, etc. How awesome will it be to be able to keep those Add-Ons while surfing the mobile web on any smartphone platform. That’s Firefox’s bread and butter. That’s what will make them successful in the mobile web 2.0.