Google and Mozilla draw battle lines in mobile browser wars

By Sooraj Shah
23 Jul 2012 View Comments
browser-montage

The battle to own the mobile browser is intensifying as key competitors acquire new systems, and launch new software.

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Google has acquired Sparrow, an iOS and Mac OS X email application, for a reported fee of $25m (£16m), while Mozilla has launched a mobile OS to compete with Microsoft, Apple and Google.

The Sparrow acquisition was announced by the firm's CEO, Dom Leca, in a blog: "We're joining the Gmail team to accomplish a bigger vision – one that we think we can better achieve with Google.

"While we'll be working on new things at Google, we will continue to make Sparrow available and provide support for our users."

The Sparrow app has always been compatible with Gmail and Google Apps accounts, and, like  Gmail, was allowed by Apple to compete with the built-in mail app for the iOS.

Tony Cripps, analyst at research firm Ovum, said the move "is an effort by Google to increase the ‘stickiness' of Gmail within the context of the Apple ecosystem. Apple would like people to move away from other services [such as Gmail] to their own, and if there is a better user experience with Gmail on an Apple device, that should minimise the extent that users will move away from other services".

Cripps said that by buying Sparrow, Google would reignite an on-going battle between vendors for services and apps.

"The ability to be interconnected through a particular ID is becoming as important as the apps themselves. So in the long-run, it is more important to acquire an app as an asset, and as there are many apps within the portfolio of both Apple and Google which are integrated from the same user account, it could sway the user to be more likely to use a particular app or service depending on the level of integration it has," he said.

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