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Sunday, March 10, 2013, 07:10 pm PT (10:10 pm ET)

Mozilla Firefox not coming to iPhone, iPad until Apple relaxes iOS browser rules

Apple is too unfriendly to third-party browsers, says Mozilla vice president Jay Sullivan, and Firefox will not be coming to iPads and iPhones until Apple decides to loosen the restrictions governing browsers iOS.

FireFox


CNet reported Sullivan's comments, which came at a South by Southwest Interactive panel on Saturday. Sullivan says Apple's current rules — which forbid browsers that do not use Apple's version of WebKit — make it so that Firefox cannot build the browser it wants to for Apple's platform.

In addition to the WebKit requirement, iOS prevents users from setting any non-Safari app as the default means of handling browsing. Apple's Mobile Safari is the top mobile browser according to industry reports, with about 60 percent share of all mobile browser usage.

Mozilla pulled its Firefox Home app from Apple's App Store in September of 2012. The company isn't working on an iOS version of Firefox and, according to Sullivan, doesn't have any plans to do so.

Another member of the panel, Dolphin Browser's David Dehgahn, lamented Apple's policy as inhibiting competition.

"Competition is critical to our survival," Dehgahn said. Sullivan and Mike Taylor from Opera Software — which recently released a WebKit-based version of Opera for iOS — agreed, saying that giving consumers browser choice was necessary in order to move the mobile web forward. Users suffer, they said, under Apple's closed system.

CNet's report says that the panel's moderator then performed a quick poll of the audience, asking how many of them were suffering being largely limited to Safari. Very few hands were raised.