A few months ago, maybe a year and a half ago, I had a long discussion with a good friend of mine. He challenged me, “Mozilla has brought back choice in the Web browser space. It’s great: there are four major browsers and three of them are (mostly) open source. Each of them is investing in Web standards. Internet Explorer is not dominant any more and Microsoft is backing Web standards again. Now what are you guys up to? What’s your next bold move?”
At the time, I did not have a lot to respond. We were hard at work on Firefox 4, aiming at a Firefox release every 12 to 18 months, and we where working on a plan. While Mozilla works in the open, too few people understood what the plan was. Connecting the dots was hard.
Fast forward to today, early 2012. Mobile World Congress – the largest mobile-related event in the world – opened this morning in beautiful Barcelona. Already Mozilla is rocking the boat with an impressive announcement: our partnership with Telefónica on Boot to Gecko (aka B2G) and Open Web device.
Some Mozillians and Web developers may wonder why Mozilla is doing more in the mobile space. There are a couple of reasons why:
1 – More and more, this is where the action is. In 2012, it is estimated that smartphone sales will be bigger than PCs. If we want to be on the side of Web users, as we always have been, we need to be where the users are. And increasingly, they’re on mobile phones.
2 – The existing mobile platforms are a lot more closed than what we would like. Most of them are closed source. Those who aren’t closed are “delayed open”, not developed in the open, with proprietary applications and services to create vendor lock-in. If we want users to have control over their online lives, we need to offer something more open. As open as the Web. Because the Web is the Platform.
What has made the Web what it is now is openness, the ability to view the source code, learn from it and build something else, without asking permission. This is what we’re bringing to the mobile world today. Now entire applications, including the “home screen”, the dialer and the text message application are actually Web applications!
Here is the proof:
It has been Mozilla’s mission as an organization to develop and bring about a completely open and standards-based Web as a platform for innovation, and we think this is going to benefit users and developers alike! Boot to Gecko and the opening of the Web on mobile opens a new chapter for Mozilla, and this makes me really proud. I’m sure I’m not the only proud Mozillian today!
Next time I meet that friend of mine, I’ll know what to tell him about Mozilla’s direction : “we’re trying to do to the mobile world what we have done to the PC-based Web in 2004: empower developers and users with the Web. On mobile this time.”