HTML5 Is Your Fast Friend



Fast is good. If light didn’t travel at the speed of light, things would be, well, dark.

Fast running can earn you a ribbon or medal; fast thinking may get you out of a jam; fast food can…  Well, never mind. But you get the idea: In general, fast is really good.

Fast updates for apps are really good, too. If you’re a developer, you’d like to get the latest and greatest versions of your apps out to users as quickly as possible, right? HTML5 is the right tool for the job.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Version control and updates: Need to fix a bug or publish an upgrade, large or small? With HTML5, developers can update once on the server and they’re done! It means that your customers will get the update right away. Not so with a native app; in that case, the user won’t receive the fix or new feature until she goes to the app store and downloads the latest version.
  • A/B tests: With HTML5, developers can easily run A/B tests to compare upgrades or other changes and determine which alternative brings about the best result. For example, you might want to compare features to see which drives users to make more purchases, or you can test different instructions to see which explanation helps users better.
  • Quick response to market conditions: The marketplace can change in the blink of an eye, and you want to be able to respond to those changes as quickly as possible, right? A new security threat might require you to make a quick change, or you might need to make adjustments to accommodate a new device. Again, HTML5 delivers that crucial “update-once” speed.

Deploying your app to the Firefox Marketplace is quick and easy, too. Check out our Developer Hub, and you’ll see how HTML5 can be your fast friend.

Image © Jenny Carless


Overhyped No More: What Developers Are Saying about HTML5



Predictions and prognostications regarding the future of HTML5 abound. Everyone’s got an opinion.

But what about the people actually doing the developing? What do developers think about HTML5? Kendo UI decided to ask—and the results are interesting.

Last fall, Kendo UI surveyed more than 4,000 software developers about their usage, attitudes and expectations around HTML5. The results demonstrate widespread adoption of HTML5: The majority of developers (82%) reported that HTML5 was already important to their job—or would be within 12 months.

Respondents noted why HTML5 development is more appealing than other options for writing software:

  • The familiarity of language (72%)
  • Reach/ Cross-platform support (62%)
  • Performance (34%)
  • Others reasons: Availability of tools/libraries, productivity, it’s based on open standards, the cost of development, and community.

 You can see a summary of these survey results here. 

This Venture Beat article shares some results from an even more recent study, again by Kendo UI, of 5,000 developers:

  • Fifty percent of respondents have developed in HTML5, and 90 percent plan to in 2013.
  • Only 15 percent of developers would go native-only when building an app for multiple platforms.
  • Only a quarter of developers now believe that HTML5 is overhyped; almost half strongly believe it’s not.

And developers are using HTML5 for all sorts of apps. Respondents cited productivity (54%), utility (38%), consumer (39%), LOB (22%), social networking (18%), entertainment (17%), lifestyle (12%), travel (9%), games (8%) and other (13%). (See these statistics and more, along with a handy infographic, in this Venture Beat article.)

HTML5 has widespread adoption around the globe, according to this latest study. The largest percentage of developers already using HTML5 is found in North America (70%). But roughly 60 percent of South American, European and Chinese developers are using it, and about half of developers in Africa are.

Amazing what you can learn when you ask the folks who are doing the work.

Get Social—at the Firefox Marketplace



What did we do before mobile devices and great apps? It’s getting hard to remember those days.

Mobile social media extends our reach and lets us engage with the world immediately, wherever we are—whether it’s keeping up with the news, booking somewhere to stay on vacation or listening to music.

And where can you find some of the best apps and experiences, such as Twitter, airbnb and SoundCloud? The Firefox Marketplace, of course.


Twitter calls itself the global town square—the place to connect with everything.

“It’s what’s happening in the world,” says Twitter’s Michael Ducker.

“We really like Firefox OS,” Michael says. “It’s a great platform for our product to succeed. So the Firefox Marketplace is a great channel for us to reach out to new customers.

“The Marketplace allows us to have a place we can call home,” he adds, “where users can come to the marketplace to look for an app—and Twitter’s right there.”


Airbnb enables hosts around the world to list their spaces, and travelers use it to look for unique accommodations. It lists spaces in 20,000+ cities in 192 countries.

“Firefox OS is interesting because of being able to interface with all ranges of mobile devices,” says Airbnb’s Andrew Vilcsak.

“We decided to build an HTML5 mobile web app because it allows us to code once and deploy to an incredible number of platforms,” he adds. “Every distribution channel is another way of reaching another segment of mobile users, so the Marketplace was an obvious decision.”


SoundCloud is the world’s leading social sound platform,” explains the company’s Thom Cummings.

It empowers creators of sound—from Foo Fighters and Madonna to smaller bedroom artists and podcasters such as The Economist and the BBC—to share their sound with the world.

“We want to be in as many places as our audience is,” Thom says. “We’re platform-agnostic in that sense. HTML5 is an important part of that strategy.”

HTML5 and web technologies in general give great flexibility both in terms of development cost and development time versus native apps, according to Thom.

“I think both have their place in the world,” he says, “but we’re really excited about the future of HTML5.”

Luckily, you don’t have to worry anymore about those scary days before mobile social media. And you’ll find just what you need to get social on the Firefox Marketplace.

Business Goes Mobile



An elephant never forgets. For the rest of us, there’s Evernote—a service that helps you remember everything.

Do you have scraps of paper lying around the house with brilliant opening lines for that novel you’ve been meaning to write? Have you forgotten where, oh where, you stored the URL of that really interesting website?

Your notes, ideas, pictures, audio clips and more will be everywhere you need them to be, because Evernote is on mobile, desktop and the web—and all those apps sync.

“Using modern web technologies lets us give the best and richest experience we can for our users,” said Jason Terk, lead web service engineer. “HTML5 has all the things you expect from a desktop app, whether drag and drop, bio manipulation or rich-text editing—all of that just inside the browser without a heavyweight app installation.”


Box, an enterprise content management solution, is another great tool that offers many features businesses need—including security and permissions administration.

Box demonstrates another advantage of web-based business applications: ease of sharing information with colleagues.

“It’s the simplest way for business users to manage, share and access content they care about,” said Indy Sen.

Box also takes advantage of HTML5.

“At its very core, our product is a web product,” Indy said. “Supporting it to HTML5 was just a matter of adding on a couple of extra things.”


Lanyrd addresses another important need: getting the most out of professional events and conferences.

“We help people find the right events to go to, meet the right people while they’re there, and then we help gather together the slides, videos and notes afterwards as a permanent record of what happened at the event,” explained Simon Willison.

“There’s a whole bunch of reasons why HTML5 makes sense for us, especially for mobile,” Simon added. He mentioned four, in particular:

  • Providing access to many devices
  • A zero-step install
  • Lanyrd has a great team of web native developers, so it uses existing in-house skills
  • It makes financial sense to use one technology that covers so many different devices


With the ubiquity of the web and a little help from HTML5, apps like Evernote, Box and Lanyrd are able to provide useful tools for doing business on the go.

Now, can Evernote just help me remember where I put my keys?


Calling All Consumers … with Direct Carrier Billing



Direct carrier billing is opening up the world of mobile apps to new markets—enormous, underserved markets. And that’s fantastic news for app developers and consumers.

When a marketplace offers carrier billing, consumers have the option to buy apps (and in-app transactions) through their mobile provider instead of using a credit card. Purchases are simply added to their bill or counted against their pre-paid balance. No credit card or bank details required!

Multiple Options, Flexible Business Models

“Carrier billing requires fewer clicks, which leads to more transactions,” says Rick Fant, Mozilla’s vice president of Apps and Marketplace. “In emerging markets, this is the standard for downloads and in-app purchases—and Firefox Marketplace supports that standard.”

From the customer’s perspective, it’s making life much easier. Consumers appreciate a streamlined purchase experience, the ability to take advantage of existing billing relationships and the option of privacy.

Hello, 1.7 Billion New Users!

According to Mobile Payments Today, emerging markets represent the biggest growth opportunity for carrier billing in 2013.

“Let’s remember, carrier billing is the only available electronic payment channel for 1.7 billion people in the world, who own a mobile phone but don’t have a bank account,” it said in this recent article. (Emphasis in original)

Welcome to the Firefox Marketplace

Firefox Marketplace has incorporated carrier billing across multiple geographies and currencies. Consumers don’t need a credit card; their purchases can be billed by their mobile provider.

So what are you waiting for? Get your apps up on the Firefox Marketplace and say hello to 1.7 billion new potential customers!

Exciting games devs about FirefoxOS in 3 steps



As for bringing actual commercial products to market that are based on these techniques, Best noted that Mozilla is already working with the likes of Disney, Electronic Arts and ZeptLab (which already brought an HTML5 version of Cut The Rope to the web after working with Microsoft). When Mozilla talks to potential new partners for this effort, Best told me, most of them are pretty skeptical at the beginning, but “by the end of the week, we usually have quite an excited partner.”

Yep, that is pretty much how the conversation goes.

1) Disbelief at what the web can do

2) We show in real life what the web can do

3) We have another excited partner on FirefoxOS

Mozilla And Epic Games Bring Unreal Engine 3 To The Web, No Plugin Needed | TechCrunch.

Why the web will be the global gaming platform



One meme that will happily be put to rest at the upcoming Game Developers Conference is if HTML5 can handle gaming.

The answer will be a resounding “YES”! Whether on desktop or mobile, HTML5 has made great strides and is at a stage where it will be able to support the most challenging game experiences.

Gamers are a notoriously demanding bunch. And that’s understandable. You don’t want any hiccups or stutter in game play when you’ve got compounds to storm, races to win, balloons to pop and ropes to cut.

Firefox is working hard to make the browser, on desktop on mobile, faster and able to run high intensity graphics. Have we succeeded?

Yeah, I’d say so. For example, we’ve done benchmarks with our new OdinMonkey JavaScript engine that will ship in upcoming versions of Firefox and have seen a performance boost by about 1000% (yes, that is three zeros) over anything else out there.

Want to see what that boost in performance can provide? Check out the future of web-based 3D gaming on our totally awesome (but goofily named… wasn’t my idea) BannanaBread demo, an incredible 3D first-person shooter running on nothing but web technologies.

But never mind the technology, let’s talk game experience. As EA’s Rich Hilleman points out, games are about magic and pushing the limits of imagination. One potential the web offers is the possibility of a single, contiguous gaming experience that carries with you wherever you go.

In a multi-device, multi-platform world, the consumer won’t accept playing their game in only one environment. As they move about their day, they’ll want to access their game, at the right state, on the device they have handy. The ubiquity of the web provides for that.

Also, by extending games to different devices and different form factors, the web helps open up gaming to the casual user, who is a great new customer for the gaming industry.

How else can the web help the gaming industry?

  1. Massive reach: It isn’t called the World Wide Web for nothing!
  2. Marketing and discoverability: Developers aren’t restricted to marketing a game in the confines of an app store. The expanse of the web and all of its inherent linkability and shareability are available so developers can reach new customers
  3. Payments: People have been doing payments on the web for years. With the web, developers have the flexibility to charge what they want, and use the payment processer they want
  4. Easy updates and analytics: The game is on your server. Developers can update when they want without having to bother with store approval processes
  5. Easy analytics: Again, the game is on your server so you don’t have to wait for analytic reports from an app store, you get all the analytic information you need, in real time
  6. Customer relationship: Distributing a game on the web means the developer owns the customer relationship. The developer doesn’t need to go through an app store or any other third party to manage payments or updates. You own the customer. No one is in the middle.

But ultimately, as Chris Ye of Uken Games says, gaming is about spreading happiness. If a developer is getting the performance they need from the web (and we think they will), then HTML5 lets them spread happiness across multiple platforms without the unhappiness of needing to maintain and upgrade multiple code bases for multiple devices.

The web still has some work to do to live up to its full potential as the ultimate global game platform, but it is getting there. And realizing the benefits the web provides, the industry participation in building out a game ecosystem is closely tracking the improvements in web game performance. That’s a trend we’ll see at this GDC and across the game market.

Creating magic on the web: Firefox and gaming



One of the great things about working on the Firefox Marketplace apps program is the opportunity to meet and interact with really amazing people.

I’m really looking forward to moderating a panel with Rich Hilleman, Chief Creative Director for EA, and Diana Moldavsky, Chief Revenue Officer for Zeptolabs, and talking about how HTML5 gaming is helping developers find new audiences and business models.

As Hilleman highlights in the embedded video, gaming is about magic and creating experiences at the outer edges of your consciousness. EA does that amazingly well across their vast catalog, as does Zeptolabs with its great game Cut the Rope.

For its part, Mozilla is on the forefront of bringing that magic to the web on both desktop and mobile. There is no reason why the web can’t be the biggest gaming platform ever created with millions of people connecting, sharing ideas and exploring those outer edges of consciousness.


GDC Panel: HTML5 Gaming: New Business Models, New Audiences

GDC Panel: Fast and Awesome HTML5 Games

Location, Location, Location: Hyper-Local Apps



Mobile applications that are everything to everyone may be great in some circumstances, but sometimes, you just want to get local—really local.

Say you work in San Francisco’s notoriously foggy Sunset district and you rely on a weather app to pick your clothes for the day. If that app bases its temperature forecast on the (typically much sunnier) Mission district, you’re going to be cold.

You want an app that gets hyper-local.

Where do you want to go?

Hyper local apps focus on a limited area—say a region, a town or even a specific neighborhood—and they have uses far beyond telling you whether you should wear a tank top or a wool sweater.

City guides are obvious examples. They can provide information on dining (restaurant reviews and locations), transportation (bus maps and schedules), tourism (landmarks, parks) and entertainment (sports events, theatres), for example.

Time Out is famous for its weekly listings of what to do in cities around the globe—and now the company is developing mobile apps, like this Time Out Barcelona app on the Firefox Marketplace.

But you don’t have to be an international corporation—that’s the beauty of HTML5 and Firefox OS. If you’re a developer, your only limitations are your imagination—and your goals. For example, are you trying to spur economic development, engage your community or just have fun?

What about designing a scheduling app for your local medical clinic or for classes at the community center?

Build an app to provide up-to-the-minute reports on the conditions at your favorite surf spots. Design one to point out the safest or fastest bike routes through your town.

“Location, location, location” is clearly not just for real estate anymore.

Image credit: jeffgunn/Flickr (license details here)



Firefox and the web end developer fragmentation



I just downloaded Word Wars, a Boggle-like word game, on my Galaxy Nexus, but I didn’t use the Google Play store. Instead, I browsed to the Firefox Marketplace on the mobile version of the Firefox browser. It installed on my device quickly, and Firefox even created a separate icon to launch the app on my homescreen.

Yep, pretty easy, huh? Build an app, distribute it on the Firefox Marketplace and distribute across Android and FirefoxOS.

This is the web ending fragmentation.

h/t: Firefox OS needs games: Mozilla is confident it can entice developers by eliminating fragmentation