Mozilla burns Firefox on old Androids

And both of you who use Tab Groups can get outraged now

UPDATE Mozilla's decided that enough is enough for old versions of Android, and will stop supporting its browser on Gingerbread and Honeycomb.

For those who can't keep up with Google's Android naming scheme, Gingerbread was version 2.3 and Honeycomb was 3.0.

Mozilla's lost its taste for both and will no longer support Android 3.0 through 3.2.6 “and will soon end support for 2.3–2.3.7.”

If you're still using an older Android with Firefox, you won't get updates any more. Security and functionality updates will therefore not be available to you, the former a potentially dangerous change and the latter not so much.

The open source operation's also decided to bin Tab Group , the feature that allowed users to create folders containing several Tabs.

Mozilla says this scalpel-work is needed because “sometimes … we need to remove features that aren’t used very much or support for platforms that are going away” in order to make best use of its resources.

Tab Groups fall foul of the first criterion, Android 3.x and 2.x the latter.

Mozilla might, however, be doing itself a disservice with its Android excisions: plenty of smartphones in the developing world run old versions of Android, not least because their owners aren't wealthy enough to regularly upgrade handsets. Leaving such users with no reason to contemplate Firefox won't advance the browser's cause, or bring Mozilla the traffic and revenue on which it relies.

The organisation's probably done the math and feels it will come out ahead. Hopefully those using Firefox on unsupported Androids do too when the next mega-bug lands. ®

Update

Mozilla's been in touch to point out that it has "been monitoring usage of both the Honeycomb and Ginberbread platforms over the past year" and that those efforts, combined with data from Google, suggests that "less than 0.1% of users are on Honeycomb, and only 2.6% of users run Gingerbread, and these figures continue to decline."

Which means our conjecture about Android usage in the developing world, and the impact of Mozilla's decision to stop supporting old Androids, may not be entirely correct.

Mozilla did not offer data disproving our conjecture about different POS usage patterns in developing nations.




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