Amino Technologies, the IPTV set-top box supplier based in Cambridge, England, says it will integrate the increasingly popular Firefox open source web browser into its range of IPTV products.

The standards-compliant Firefox web browser is an open-source product developed by the Mozilla Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, supported by engineers and partner companies from around the world. It has been steadily taking share of the web browser market from Microsoft Internet Explorer, and now reportedly accounts for over 10% of the browsers on personal computers.

The use of the Firefox browser in a set-top box will eliminate one of the necessary licence fees involved in IPTV deployments. The Firefox browser will be available to Amino customers in the third quarter of 2006.

Amino also recently announced a partnership with Opera Software to offer its browser as an option in its set-top boxes. Both developments pose a possible threat to suppliers of specialised browser software, such as ANT, another Cambridge company. ANT recently licensed their Galio client software to Siemens.

“While Amino continues to support the leading IPTV user interface software from other suppliers, the Firefox browser will offer our customers a means of providing essential IPTV navigation at zero cost,” said Paul Fellows, the chief technology officer of Amino. “The company’s approach to IPTV design and engineering mirrors the use of the Linux operating system and our commitment to open source software in general.”

The Firefox code will be ported to Amino’s software stack and adapted to provide consumers with a clear television interface. What this does not necessarily mean is the ability to browse the web on the television, but the use of the Firefox codebase should ideally ensure a high degree of compatibility with existing web standards, facilitating integration by those with web development skills. At worst, we could be in for a repeat of the ‘browser wars’ that impeded the early development of the web.