iOS and Android aren’t leaving much room for Firefox to burrow into mobile. “We knew there was going to be a transition from desktop being primary to mobile and tablet being primary” said Greylock partner / Mozilla’s former CEO and current board member John Lilly today at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC. “What I worry about, the scary part is that for the first time the platforms and distribution are tightly controlled before innovation has really started”
Lilly explained that Internet Explorer once dominated web browsing and people said “How the hell do you break that?” But Firefox and Chrome came along and now the market is almost evenly split. But Lilly says “mobile’s not like that. Mobile is these tied-down vertical stacks that are controlled by Google and Apple, so we have a new impossible problem to become relevant on mobile.”
As the world spends more and more of its time on mobile, Mozilla will have to figure out how to inject itself there. Firefox for Android is a good start, but tests against Chrome in February saw Mozilla’s version loading pages much slower. There just might not be enough value for Firefox to add in order to pull Android users from their default browser. And thanks to Apple’s Draconian SDK agreement, Mozilla isn’t even allowed to release a full-version of Firefox for iOS.
Greylock Partners has been actively investing in mobile, with it taking stakes in Instagram, Cardspring, and 100Plus since Lilly joined as a partner.
Lilly is optimistic about Mozilla’s desktop browser, though. “I think Firefox is about as good as it’s ever been right now.” But unfortunately, the Google juggernaut is there too. “I know a lot of people probably moved to Chrome” Lilly said.