Category Archives: mobile

Future Web Forum 2009 – Sept. 4 – Seoul

Channy Yun of the Mozilla Korea community tells me that the Future Web Forum 2009 event is this Friday, September 4th, in Seoul. Channy will be speaking about Firefox 3.5 and while Joone Hur will be speaking about the current state of Fennec (see event program).

Last year Mitchell Baker and I spoke at this event which was scheduled alongside the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Internet.  Vint Cerf and Mitchell both keynoted the event last year.

If you are in Seoul this Friday, don’t miss this event as it is one of the few events which showcases browsers other than IE in Korea.

Google and Apple propose emoji for Unicode

While not directly browser-related, this news is Japan and Unicode-related, so is tangentially interesting.

Markus Scherer, Mark Davis, Kat Momoi, Darick Tong (Google Inc.) and Yasuo Kida, Peter Edberg (Apple Inc.) are proposing to add 674 characters to the Unicode standard in order to support emoji in Unicode.

As of December 2008, there are 110.4 million cell phone users in Japan (about 87% of the population), and about 90.6% of the cell phones are 3G-enabled for internet use. Emoji are widely used, especially by people under 30. However, a June 2007 survey of 13,000 users — 80% of whom were 30 or older — found that even among this older group, 78% “often” or “sometimes” used Emoji in emails. Respondents reported using a wide variety of Emoji, including Emoji for faces, emotions, weather, vehicles and buildings, food and drink, animals, etc. Especially among younger users, email is mostly or exclusively used on cell phones instead of computers. Among cell phone users, 90% use email primarily on cell phones, and 60% use email exclusively on cell phones. Emoji have been used on Japanese cell phones for 10 years, and there is no evidence that use of Emoji is decreasing.

Proposal for Encoding Emoji Symbols

I know this data to be true and yet it’s still a stunning fact: 60% of cell phone users in Japan use email EXCLUSIVELY on cell phones and 90% of cell phone users in Japan use email PRIMARILY on cell phones. This is a stunning fact, and the key is that mobile carriers in  Japan do not support SMS. Mobile phone messaging in Japan is email.

It’s interesting to see Google and Apple cooperating here as both Google and Apple have a need with the iPhone and the Android device that’s planned to be launched by NTT DoCoMo this year for emoji support.

via What Japan Thinks.

The Firefox computer circa 2008

The New York Times has an article up recently about the goal to cut start up times for personal computers:
In Age of Impatience, Cutting PC Start Time.

In coming months, the world’s major PC makers plan to introduce a new generation of quick-start computers, spotting a marketing opportunity in society’s short attention span.

Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo are rolling out machines that give people access to basic functions like e-mail and a Web browser in 30 seconds or less. Asus, a Taiwanese company that is the world’s largest maker of the circuit boards at the center of every PC, has begun building faster-booting software into its entire product line.

It’s interesting to see how users perceptions about the impact of start times has changed more quickly than the operating systems have.

The New York Times article talks about how some of the current solutions use Linux and a browser (usually Firefox or a Gecko-based browser.)

Until Microsoft comes up with a way to greatly shorten the time it takes to load Windows, PC makers are speeding up boot times using programs that bypass Windows. The systems vary technically, but they all rely on a version of an operating system called Linux that gives users quick access to Web browsing and other basic functions of their computer. In some cases, Windows never boots, while in others, Windows starts in the background.

The NYT article didn’t mention it by name but the category of PCs in question here are netbooks.

Jeff Atwood has a post up about his new netbook and how much he uses the web browser on it vs. any other application: The Web Browser is the New Laptop.

Every day, more and more of what we need to do is delivered through a browser, with fewer and fewer compromises. I spend ridiculous, unhealthy amounts of time browsing the web, and this netbook does that with aplomb. At this point, who cares what operating system you run? Choice of web browser will have a far more profound impact on most people’s daily lives. As the prices for netbooks inevitably collapse, they are poised to transform the entire computer market, threatening both Apple and Microsoft.

This reminds me of Toni Schneider’s (CEO of Automattic) post from February 2007, when he claimed that he only needed a browser to do his work: The Firefox computer.

I want a Firefox computer. A nice, sleek, solid state notebook with a big screen that you open up and it just runs Firefox. I bet this could be had for a reasonable price, it could have a nice long battery life and start up almost instantly. I’d still have a PC or Mac at home to store my photos and music, but for my everyday work life the Firefox computer is all I need.

Toni foresaw the demand for the netbooks that are gaining in popularity today. The big question is what is next after the OS blends into the background as is being documented by the NY Times.

WIPI in Korea or non-tariff barriers to mobile competition

Last year I wrote about the de-facto monopoly of Microsoft Internet Explorer in South Korea (Slashdot, Digg, etc.) Everyone I tell this story to in the Internet industry, who is not South Korean, is amazed and surprised by such a reality.

Now I hear that the South Korean government’s Mobile Platform Special Subcommittee of the Korea Wireless Internet Standardization Forum (KWISF), in an attempt to create competition (or some say block foreign competition) in the mobile application space, required a Korean-developed middleware standard on all Korean mobile phones, WIPI or (Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability), which effectively closed the Korean market to international competition.

I first heard about WIPI only a few days ago, on Channy Yun’s Korea Crunch weblog. Then Changwon Kim blogged about the negative impact of WIPI in Korea at Web 2.0 Asia: Korean government mulling over scraping WIPI altogether.

Here are some other recent choice quotes about the impact of WIPI in South Korea:

The Korea Times: Wireless Operators in Talks With Nokia, Apple Over Phones

“The one remaining trade barrier for foreign handset makers is “WIPI,” or “Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability,” a software standard that the government mandated in 2005 for all mobile-phone makers planning to deliver Internet access on handsets.

With Korea accounting for just 2 percent of the world’s mobile-phone market, it was hard to convince the foreign handset makers to produce WIPI-enabled phones not usable elsewhere.

However, the KCC, the country’s telecommunications regulator, is now considering scrapping the WIPI requirements, amid criticism that maintaining a fixed software standard would mean little when the global industry trend leans toward the adoption of open-source operating systems for wireless platforms. Korea signals lifting of handset barrier

But faced with criticism that the regulation restricts Korean consumers’ choices, President Lee Myung-bak’s newly elected government has expressed a willingness to soften the WIPI rule, potentially allowing foreign handset makers a way into the Korean market.

The WIPI rule, designed to protect local companies, has been the biggest entry barrier against foreign handset makers,” says Stan Jung, analyst at Woori Investment & Securities. “Once the rule is spiked, global companies will actively seek to enter the market. Then, Samsung and LG will find it hard to maintain their dominance.

The Korea Times: IT Regulation Prevents Korean Access to iPhone

The presence of two of the world’s largest mobile phone makers ― Samsung and LG ― has encouraged the [Korean] government to shut its door to foreign-made mobile phones by using non-tariff barriers. Along with iPhone, the Nokia, Blackberry and Sony-Ericsson phones are virtually not allowed to be sold here.

Korea is not ready,” said a manager of Apple Korea Tuesday. “We have no comment on iPhone matter in Korea, also, there is no plan to release any further information about launching of iPhone in Korea”

In 2003, the government imposed a unique software platform called WIPI on mobile phones on sale, hoping that this industrial standard can save firms from unnecessary competition and overlapping investment. But as phone technologies advance, this regulation has become a stiff trade barrier for foreign makers who think it is not cost-efficient to redesign their products only for the South Korean market.

Digital Daily by John Paczkowski: South Korea: No iPhone for YOU!

“And for Apple (AAPL), as well as other handset manufacturers like Nokia (NOK) and Sony Ericsson (ERIC), redesigning their devices to do so is a costly proposition. So costly, in fact, that they’d rather not bother.

ZDNet Korea: Seems like WIPI is out. Can Korea become a global financial hub without it?

According to Hong [a Korean mobile software developer], Korean handset makers obviously do not want to abolish WIPI, in their fear of shrinking market share. Fortunately for them, the effort for the restoration of WIPI is still ongoing. As Hong said, developing WIPI into an open-source style is considered, if it helps the country’s IT industry.

The problem with thinking that open-sourcing WIPI will help is that the license for the WIPI software is not the core problem. None of the non-Korean mobile handset manufacturers want to deal with WIPI, whether it is open source or not, because the costs for developing and maintaining a fork for just one nation is not worth the effort (unless you’re Qualcomm it seems.)

This is now the second time that I have learned that Korea has developed a standard, unique to Korea, which has effectively closed the market to competition (the first being the pc desktop web browser market, of which there is no Korean-domestic browser, so they make do with Internet Explorer.)

As Ian Fleming said in Goldfinger, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time is enemy action.” (Note, my point here is to say that the S. Korean government seems to make active decisions to limit competition in Korea, which in turn benefits the domestic businesses who are closest to the market.)

I’ll close with Dame Shirley Bassey, because she should always be given the last word.

Cisco and China; Linux in Korea; community survey; JUI in Tokyo

Intel® C++ Software Development Tool Suite 1.0 for Linux* OS Supporting Mobile Internet Devices
Free IDE for mobile linux development.

OECD Broadband Portal – Press release
Data on broadband growth.

Firebug 1.2 beta for Firefox 3 RC 1
Works with Firefox 3 RC 1! Might have a few bugs but please check it out.

Q&A with Isaac Mao on tech blogging in China: Censorship, and opportunity
Isaac was very helpful when we visited Shanghai in 2007 before we opened the Mozilla Beijing office.

Cisco Systems Denies Online Censorship Role in China
Cisco internal documents show otherwise.

Cisco Leak: ‘Great Firewall’ of China Was a Chance to Sell More Routers
Not surprised; very disappointed.

Cisco saw opportunity in “Golden Shield” to help fight criminals…and dissidents
Must-read from Rebecca MacKinnon on Cisco-firewall-gate.

Read and be depressed with me.

China’s All-Seeing Eye
Naomi Klein for Rolling Stone Magazine.

Open-Source File Format Is to Be a Part of Microsoft Office
Embrace & extend.

Report: JUI (Javascript User Interface) 2008 conference in Tokyo
Akky and Serkan have made Asiajin a must-read in 2008.

Firefox 3 Usability Survey
Isriya Paireepairit of the Mozilla community in Thailand would like your help with a survey he is working on for his university studies.

Metagold: A Research Blog about Nico Nico Douga
Fascinating English-language look into the hot video web service of Japan. Correspondent’s Diary – Tokyo food
Excellent Tokyo food blog.

Linux Foundation Opens Korean Office
The LiMoKr must be targeting enterprises or just the server market because the Linux desktop is dead in the water in Korea without support for SEED and Korea’s unique Windows/ActiveX-based encryption method.


.jp Registry report 2007

Lower fees, more coordination within Asian registrars, expansion of JP DNS servers, DNSSEC.  Personally, I am still on the fence with regards to i18nized domains.

Chris Blizzard video interview

Amanda McPherson, the marketing director for the Linux Foundation, linked to a great video interview with Chris Blizzard from the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit. Chris talks about Firefox on Linux, Mozilla and Linux, Firefox on mobile and other topics related to Linux and Firefox.

Mitchell Baker, Clay Shirky, Antonio Gomes, Thai Minefield

Nokia on working with open source

Via flors I see that Ari Jaaksi, a Vice President of Software at Nokia, recently presented on “What Mobile Users Need and How Open Source Can Help” at OSiM USA 2008. Jaaksi’s presentation is also available in pdf and Podshow is also providing an mp3. I recommend the mp3 audio as the presentation is largely images.

Jaaksi’s presentation is very relevant to Mozilla because Nokia’s N810 Internet Tablet ships with Maemo Linux as the operating system and Mozilla’s Gecko is used as the rendering engine for the Maemo Browser.  I know from recent discussions with Christian Sejersen and Jay Sullivan of Mozilla’s mobile team that Mozilla very much values Nokia’s participation in the Mozilla project.

Jaaksi’s presentation touched on these points:

  • Linux and open source CAN meet the needs of mass-market.
  • [Nokia’s] role: bring open source to mainstream consumer electronics
  • [Nokia & open source] need to learn from each other. Both.
  • Building upstream. Community rules.
  • Beyond code and licenses: developers and projects.
  • Diving in: deeper involvement.

While the entire presentation was worth reviewing, starting around 16:40 in Jaaksi’s presentation are some interesting and insightful comments about Nokia and working in open source. In response to a question about whether Nokia contributed patches back to Webkit around the implementation of Webkit in Nokia’s S60 platform, Jaaksi was open and honest and said that Nokia did not do enough in that instance.  He then went on to say that Nokia plans to work more closely with the open source projects they are shipping code from in the future.

Note: when Jaaksi talks about the ‘upstream model’ what he means to say is contributing patches regularly back to the original project’s codebase. I’ve also added in some clarification in brackets in the transcription below to make it more clear as to what exactly Jaaksi is referring to.

Question from the audience (@ 16:20): Excuse me, another question. If I remember correctly, it was 3 years ago when you [Nokia] implemented Webkit in to the Series 60 devices, you had to make a lot changes, for example in memory management. Did you use the ‘upstream model’ in that case?  I mean, did you feed back to the community the changes you had made for your devices?

Answer from Ari Jaaksi:  Not the way we [Nokia] should have done it.  Let me be very honest about that. Also with our Internet tablets we have horror stories where we didn’t do it [share patches back with the trunk]. Just today, or yesterday I discussed this with the Mozilla guy, the name escapes me at the moment, I don’t know if he is here today, about our Mozilla browser here. It is really that, what we did was last summer when we started to ship with the Mozilla browser we made a couple of mistakes. We are kind of working upstream there [with Mozilla] but we are not doing as much as I would like to do and we sort of need to go back. We almost forked the code [from Mozilla] but we need to go back [to sync up with the main Gecko 1.9 trunk].

Also in the [Webkit] browser on the Series 60 devices, I claim that the Webkit situation is not a trivial case. There are… Apple forked it.  We [Nokia] kind of forked it. There are some challenges now [due to the forking of code from the Webkit trunk]. This is something that we as an industry should learn [not to do]. This [forking code] is not benefitting anybody if we do it like that. That is kind of my message here.  Good question.

I, for one, am very glad to see Nokia using open source, and it’s clear from Jaaksi’s presentation and comments that while Nokia has had some challenges in developing with open source code, they are learning how better to work with open source communities (like Mozilla) to provide innovative products to Nokia’s customers.  It’s great to hear that Nokia plans to sync back with the core Gecko code base as Nokia (and the users of the Nokia products that will ship with Gecko) will get all the benefits that the entire Mozilla community is working on for the current version of Gecko 1.9 and beyond.

Thank you to Ari Jaaksi and the entire Nokia open source development team for their hard work and efforts.  We look forward to your future products, especially those made with OSS and especially Mozilla.

Mozilla at Mobile Monday Tokyo – Feb. 18

Christian Sejersen and Jay Sullivan from Mozilla’s mobile team will be in Tokyo on February 18th to speak at Mobile Monday Tokyo.  Unfortunately the event is not free (it costs 1000 yen if you pre-register) but it should be an interesting evening as Michael Smith from the W3C will also be speaking.  I hope to see you there!