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Firefox may have disqualified itself from the iPhone, but expect the browser to appear in its Firefox for Mobile version in the Android Market in the near future.

It’s not finished yet, but there are so many bogus versions of Firefox appearing in the Market that its creator Mozilla is considering pushing out the beta version, already available on its website.

In a conversation with Jay Sullivan, Mozilla’s products vice president, on the fringes of the Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday, I showed him ten different so-called versions of the browser I could find in the Market.

Only one was upfront in its listing about being bogus: Fake Firefox Browser says it just replaces the regular icon button, used to start the standard Android browser, with a Firefox icon, in order to impress your friends.

The real thing is a somewhat different experience and pretty impressive in itself.

I like the Firefox Sync feature, which links to all the Firefox browsers I use on different machines. So after leaving my desk, I can pick up where I left off on my phone – seeing in its Firefox for Mobile browser all the tabs I had left open on my desktop PC. I can also see its bookmarks and carry over preferences and passwords.

The browser has location awareness and easy sharing of content built in and the Awesome Bar is there to use as a search box or quick website address finder. Useful add-ons include Reading List, which allows offline reading of saved pages in situations like Airplane mode. Access to tabs and settings are a swipe to the left or right away.

“We’ll probably put the next update in the Android Market,” Mr Sullivan told me, alluding to the confusion being caused by the fake apps.

For the iPhone, Mozilla has released Firefox Home, which is a version of Firefox Sync that has to use Apple’s Safari browser to access web sites.

“Apple says you can’t have a browser engine other than Webkit – their built-in browser engine – and you also cannot have a language interpreter, which [Firefox's] JavaScript is.”

Other browser developers have found ways round this – Skyfire, which allows Flash video and games to be accessed on the iPhone, and Opera Mini.

“Skyfire uses the built-in browser and puts a different user interface on it and, like Opera Mini, they are running browsers on the server side, which fetch pages on your behalf,” he said.

Skyfire appears to have made more than $1m on the App Store in the past week. It went on sale on November 3 at $2.99 before sales were abruptly suspended the same day.

Skyfire put out a ridiculous press release saying the app had sold out – how does that happen with a digital download?

More likely, its servers were struggling with the weight of requests to render Flash videos for users on their non-flash iPhones and iPod touch devices.

Skyfire said in its press release it had suffered “overwhelming consumer demand” and was expanding its server capacity.

On Tuesday, it reported more than 300,000 downloads just over the weekend as it became available in the App Store again.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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