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The first mobile version of Firefox is days away from delivery, Mozilla project chiefs have told the BBC.

Fennec will initially be ported to the Nokia's N900 phone, followed by releases for other handsets over an unspecified timescale. The open-source based mobile browser, which has been in development for the last 18 months, faces tough competition from the incumbents in the mobile browser space such as Opera. The modified version of Safari on Apple's iPhone has raised users' expectations of what to expect from web browsing on the move.

Jay Sullivan, head of the Fennec project at Mozilla, said the software is going through the final phases of testing and might be ready for release by the end of the year.

The open-source browser will be able to synchronise with the desktop version, so that users can continue browsing site on their phone once they move away from their PC. This is touted as a key benefit over other mobile browser software packages by Mozilla.

Fennec will also offer tabbed browsing, just like its desktop cousin, and add-ons. These add-ons replicate the functionality of mobile applications in a different form-factor, though Mozilla seems keen to downplay the possibility that this would affect app store sales.

Versions of Fennec for Microsoft's Windows mobile and Google's Android operating system are in development. However, an iPhone version of Fennec is not even in development, not least because Mozilla's technology is not based on the WebKit engine used by Safari or other existing browser apps licensed by Apple.

"Apple is very restrictive." Sullivan told the BBC. "As it's a pretty closed platform we don't see that happening soon." ®

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