updated 12:36 pm EDT, Mon September 3, 2012
Source code made available for community development
Mozilla, having recently announced it was suspending development on Thunderbird, has now pulled its two-year-old Firefox Home browser from the App Store, saying the project provided "valuable insight and experience with the platform." The source code for Firefox Home's iOS Sync feature has been posted to Github, stripped of any Mozilla trademarks with a hope for further community development. The company says it will "continue to explore" iOS opportunities.
Though the team plans to "focus our resources on other projects," the company remains "committed to providing compelling user experiences across as many platforms and devices as possible," according to the farewell blog post. Thus far, Firefox Home was the company's only attempt to have a presence in iOS, but the app -- which primarily served as a sync engine to the desktop version of Firefox that could then be opened in Mobile Safari -- was seen as inefficient and defeating the purpose of using an alternative browser in the first place. Though users could sync open tabs, history and bookmarks, the task could also be accomplished within Mobile Safari itself, making the app redundant.
The removal of Firefox Home leaves only Google's Chrome, MoboTap's Dolphin browser, iCab Mobile and Opera Mini as the main alternatives to the built-in Mobile Safari on iOS devices, though most use the same WebKit engine as Safari itself. A handful of additional third-party browsers, including the Flash-translating Skyfire, also vie for marketshare against Mobile Safari.