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Mozilla Cellphones Handhelds Technology

Mozilla Plans Mobile App Store 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-of-many dept.
dkd903 writes "Mozilla wants to make it big in the Mobile world and has revealed its plans for a unique mobile app store in its annual report — 'The State of Mozilla,' which was released recently. Mozilla has already brought the desktop Firefox experience to mobile devices as the Fennec browser, which was initially launched for the Maemo platform on Nokia N900. Mozilla has designed a prototype of a mobile app store and plans to call it a 'Open Web App ecosystem.' The aim is to create an open app store platform that would consist of apps that can run on all mobile devices: — A 'Mobile Device Independent' App Store."
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Mozilla Plans Mobile App Store

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  • Mozilla users aren't used to paying for add ons...

    • by catbutt (469582)
      Is this restricted to mozilla users? I assume you can access it with mobile safari and mobile chrome (or whatever you call the android browser)
    • by yoshi_mon (172895)

      Damn right we are not paying for addons. We are trying to use the FOSS model.

      I'm not even sure, yes I did not read TFA, what this is all about but no. No dammit I'm not going to pay for an addon. Do you people even know what FOSS means?

      • Hand in your geek card and go read Selling Free Software [gnu.org].

        • by yoshi_mon (172895)

          Tell you what, I'll split the difference with you when you hand in your geek card and read:

          http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html [gnu.org]

          • You mean the part of the license which says

            You may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey

            ?

            Free Software is NOT about it being gratis. The only reason they're usually gratis is because 1) they're done as personal projects or 2) someone can "CentOS"-it, by buying a copy and redistributing the sources (or even binaries) for free. But nothing in any Free Software license (either copyleft or not) precludes you from charging, and in fact you can even charge for copies of software you didn't wr

            • by yoshi_mon (172895)

              You may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey...

              The idea of setting up a 'marketplace' rather than a repository is I think in direct opposition to what the FSF/GNU philosophy is. I know of no 'marketplace' where I can go and get goods for free.

              I do however know of many FSF/GNU repositories that I can update my FSF/GNU machines from for no cost. Will I be able to apt-get updates from such a 'marketplace' without having to go though a screen that says, "No thanks, I really don't want to give you some money at this point."

              I really have no problem with peo

              • Please, you can't even spell license. You're gasping at straws but as I showed you, charging is not in direct opposition to the FSF/GNU philosophy.

                I do however know of many FSF/GNU repositories that I can update my FSF/GNU machines from for no cost. Will I be able to apt-get updates from such a 'marketplace' without having to go though a screen that says, "No thanks, I really don't want to give you some money at this point."

                Unless you're using gNewSense, the GNU project does NOT decide which gets in those r

                • by yoshi_mon (172895)

                  Hey hey hey, we are both on the same side here I think. Lets keep this civil. This:

                  Please, you can't even spell license.

                  Is not called for. I actually saw that slip though my spell-check as I clicked submit. But anyway, that is not the point. Please, lets keep the ad-hominem attacks down.

                  Just because you keep repeating it, doesn't make it true. RMS and the FSF have never changed their minds about it. It is and always OK to sell FLOSS software.

                  Again, easy with the ad-hominem killer. I'm on your side I think. I am just trying to make sure that the FSF/GNU model is not corrupted by the monetization of the FOSS software. You clearly argue that selling software FOSS is fine. I agree. But I am s

                  • Is not called for. I actually saw that slip though my spell-check as I clicked submit. But anyway, that is not the point. Please, lets keep the ad-hominem attacks down.

                    I apologize. I felt the tone of your last sentence was somewhat accusative, but my reply was definitively uncalled for.

                    Again, easy with the ad-hominem killer.

                    That's not an ad-hominem, I was targeting your argument, not you. And frankly, while harsh that was what you were doing.
                    If you feel that having a marketplace and selling GPL licensed sof

                    • by yoshi_mon (172895)

                      I apologize. I felt the tone of your last sentence was somewhat accusative, but my reply was definitively uncalled for.

                      Thank you.

                      That's not an ad-hominem, I was targeting your argument, not you. And frankly, while harsh that was what you were doing.
                      If you feel that having a marketplace and selling GPL licensed software is wrong, fine, your opinion is as valid as anyone else's. But that was never the FSF position and I find it disrespectful of you to try to put words in their mouths.

                      It is a standard tactic in a debate to try and rephrase your argument such that you can get your point across. I fully understand that in this day and age that...some people have taken that to a new level but that was neither my intention or what I'd hope to do. If anything I tried to further my argument about why the idea of paying for FSF/GNU software is wrong.

                      And I am not trying to put words into anyone's mouth. I'm actually arguing from a GNU founder's POV, Richard Stallman, and as radical

                    • It is a standard tactic in a debate to try and rephrase your argument such that you can get your point across. I fully understand that in this day and age that...some people have taken that to a new level but that was neither my intention or what I'd hope to do. If anything I tried to further my argument about why the idea of paying for FSF/GNU software is wrong. And I am not trying to put words into anyone's mouth.

                      When? In your original reply, you posted only the GPL as an argument against selling FLOSS so

                    • by ruthwho (1941726)
                      I'm a bit confused by this argument, but I think it's clear, Yoshi Mon, that you seem to think that selling Free Software is wrong.

                      Now, if we can all accept that the FSF's stance on this is that it is like Free Speech, not Free Beer, as Richard Stallman himself said. The idea of a free market does consist of the same basics of buying and selling, but it takes a different look at property. Once you have bought a piece of software you should be able to look at the code, modify the code, and redistribute yo
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Mozilla users aren't used to paying for add ons...

      I'd pay for an add-on that allowed Firefox to better manage its memory usage. But of course I here that Firefox does not have memory management issues.

      • You already can - just pay someone to write it.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        But of course I here that Firefox does not have memory management issues.

        It no longer has issues, but unfortunately its coping strategy is to be in denial.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just Mozilla users?
      This whole concept of an "app" as define in Apple newspeak, is an mere artifact of the DRMed-to-hell platforms that are coming out.
      All the games, transport timetables, maps etc that you could access free on the web, you can now buy for your phone.

      I really hope that Mozilla's "Open Web App ecosystem" smashes all these 25% free-as-in-beer with censorship existing app stores to bits.

    • Speaking of addons:

      Does Firefox have a "Debug And QA UI" addon like SeaMonkey has? I've found this extension to be extremely useful and would love to use it with fox. If you don't know what I'm talking about read more here: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/seamonkey/addon/212342/ [mozilla.org]

  • If the developer opportunities are good, i'm in. Problem is, calling something an App Store doesn't really change things much if you're just giving people access to a web site. Maybe they're going to focus on local apps written in html+css+js?

    • by catbutt (469582)

      Maybe they're going to focus on local apps written in html+css+js?

      Problem is, they can't do that for iPhone, but they certainly could for Android.

      I suppose they could do it for mobile web apps and work out a way of blocking access to people who haven't paid, like you seem to suggest. I'm sure people would be annoyed by that though (even though there's no reason it's really any worse that just selling the app itunes-style)

      • I was under the impression that you COULD do that on the iPhone.....maybe its just local storage of data and not the entire thing working in offline mode?

        • by catbutt (469582)
          What I meant was they can't sell (non-jailbreak) iPhone apps in a non-Apple store.
      • by node 3 (115640)

        Maybe they're going to focus on local apps written in html+css+js?

        Problem is, they can't do that for iPhone, but they certainly could for Android.

        What are you talking about? That's how Apple originally addressed the desire people had for third-party apps. It's still a perfectly valid and explicitly permitted method for running software on the iPhone.

    • by POWRSURG (755318)

      If the developer opportunities are good, i'm in. Problem is, calling something an App Store doesn't really change things much if you're just giving people access to a web site. Maybe they're going to focus on local apps written in html+css+js?

      What you're looking for are called W3C Widgets [w3.org]. W3C Widgets currently run on Opera, and Vodafone, while T-Mobile and the Nokia S60 have have near standard W3C Widget implementations. It looks like Android is working on it, but Apple is doing everything in their power to fight this (all while touting how great HTML5 is).

  • Also, Steve Jobs will say no.

    • More likely it's the Verizon's, Sprints, AT&T, and Telstra's of the world that will say no. They're already starting to lock down android phones they carry. There is too much money in "apps" that they don't get piece of, at least not with Apple and not with the google marketplace. And in the cell phone worlds it's all about revenue per customer.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Although I suspect that the parent is trolling it does raise a genuine issue for iOS. Apple does not allow apps that can run arbitrary code, which is why they don't allow general purpose emulators or Flash. If Firefox on iOS can install apps they might decide it falls foul of this rule.

      • by wampus (1932)

        Not trolling, it's the truth. Apple flat out says the only way to get code onto an iThing is through Apple. This Mozilla doodad "duplicates system functionality" of the App Store.

        I also think it's a stupid idea on my Android device, wouldn't install it on my BlackBerry, and doubt that MS will allow it on WinPho 7.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Adblock and a good tabs implementation would make it better than the standard Android browser IMHO.

  • What I'm wondering is, are they going to have some sort of compatibility testing done, to ensure that the app will actually run on the phone? Rovio's going to develop a lightweight version of Angry Birds [arstechnica.com] for slower phones; will there be some way of automatically testing the phone to see if it's compatible, or will there just be a whole load of programs that you'll never know if you can run or not? If it's the later, I can't see this venture being very successful.

    • My guess is the app store itself will be labeled beta and there will be little quality control.
    • by NoSig (1919688)
      Seeing as it is coming from Mozilla you'd think these apps would be written for use on Mozilla browsers using their XUL platform. In that case these apps should as well or as poorly as the Mozilla browser itself does. The one problem might be apps requiring more processing power or ram than your phone has, which is the exact same issue on PCs.
  • I have a N90, a N95, and an N800, etc. I loved being able to write apps on my laptop, and transfer them over to my hand held device . . . even though that I can't program myself out of a paper bag!

    I loved flicking the N90 so much, that my girlfriend said: "Quit playing with it! You might break it!"

    Insert Beavis and Butthead text here.

    So this MeeGo stuff has me all curious . . . just wait, don't buy.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Which is at best tangential to the topic at hand, no?

      • Which is at best tangential to the topic at hand, no?

        A native American Indian hunter/scout/guide once told me that his folks never got lost in the woods ... but sometimes the path strayed a bit.

        When I told him that my thoughts often ran tangential to the topic, he answered, "Good! Then you will not notice that we are lost!"

  • I'd like a taste (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zeroRenegade (1475839) on Monday November 22, 2010 @12:28AM (#34302768)

    I'd be interested in seeing an app store moderated by a free software foundation. I think it could attract a lot of talented developers. It would free us from the walled garden and the android market is being drowned by a flood of low quality development. For example, if you look for a live wallpaper, there are hundreds of applications from just a few of the same developers. Developers should be restricted in the amount of applications that they slapped together which they are allowed to release. A foundation like Mozilla understands good software.

    Cloud applications are making a good fight, but in reality local applications/games in javascript and webgl are the future. Both of these types of web applications could be distributed through mozilla. I'd be willing to part with the same 30% that Apple takes from my pie, if the store garners a decent customer base.

    • but in reality local applications/games in javascript and webgl are the future

      Games will never have a primary future in javascript/webgl. They simply give up way too much CPU and platform potential. Sure you are going to see a lot of javascript/webgl games, but it's just not ever going to be "the future" of gaming. It might be for applications, although I think they jury is far, far out on that and I'm doubtful for the same reasons.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        That's because you're still clinging to the idea that AAA games are the future. They're not even the present. The casual gaming market is growing immensely and has much better profit margins.

        • That's because you're still clinging to the idea that AAA games are the future. They're not even the present.

          It's not AAA titles that really go after performance. It's the smaller developers, the indies, because they are not about making an engine that is simply good enough to carry the billion dollars of artwork to be delivered, indies are all about making an AMAZING game that often takes full advantage of some hardware features.

          So you are exactly backwards in your thinking - AAA titles could live quite w

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by duguk (589689)

      there are hundreds of applications from just a few of the same developers. Developers should be restricted in the amount of applications that they slapped together which they are allowed to release. A foundation like Mozilla understands good software.

      I couldn't disagree more. More software isn't a bad thing, and stopping duplication or number of releases would be against the whole point of a free software foundation.

      What's needed is a better way to distinguish good apps from bad apps; in the same way that we have on other OS's - especially Windows. Mozilla are pretty good with this on their Addons (there's a lot of crap, but you don't often see it) - I could see this going well.

      As for language and where it's run, I don't see as it's that important; d

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:23AM (#34303048)

    I'm sure Mozilla can do a good job, but there are already similar attempts underway - one is OpenAppMkt [tipb.com].

    I guess Mozilla has an advantage in that they can bundle it with the browser, but to me it seems more like mobile users would be using such a thing than desktop users, and I don't know of any mobile devices that ship with Mozilla as the default browser.

  • by Mandrel (765308) on Monday November 22, 2010 @01:46AM (#34303154)

    There needs to be a browser that exposes in JavaScript a common API for phone I/O: accelerometer, multi-touch, camera, GPS. etc.

    I'd also like to see a store for apps (native or HTML+JS) that charged for apps but also (1), encouraged developers to make the source of their apps available, and (2), allowed other developers to sell altered binaries on the same store, with the original author getting a cut equal to what they originally charged, and so on down the line. This would open development, while ensuring those adding value are compensated. It'd be like a software VAT [wikipedia.org].

    • but also (1), encouraged developers to make the source of their apps available

      How are web apps not open, ever? By definition if they run you can see the source, because the browser has to have the javascript/css to work...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mandrel (765308)

        How are web apps not open, ever? By definition if they run you can see the source, because the browser has to have the javascript/css to work...

        JavaScript can be compressed/encoded/obfuscated, which makes it much harder to modify than when there are both code comments and proper function and variable names. API documentation, both client and server-side, may also be lacking.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      There needs to be a browser that exposes in JavaScript a common API for phone I/O: accelerometer, multi-touch, camera, GPS. etc.

      Um that part already exists: http://www.phonegap.com/ [phonegap.com]

      • by Mandrel (765308)
        Excellent, thanks for the link.
      • PhoneGap (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mandrel (765308)

        PhoneGap looks like it's a set of SDKs that allows apps written in JavaScript to run on a number of phone OSes; not a browser for each of these OSes that allow arbitrary websites to act like device-integrated phone apps.

        Does anyone know of a browser app with PhoneGap capability? Would such an app be approved by Apple?

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Well, it doesn't have everything you mentioned, but it does exist: Adobe Flash. But everybody around here thinks it has no market.

          And it sucks.

  • Guaranteed Fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by digitaltraveller (167469) on Monday November 22, 2010 @03:31AM (#34303548) Homepage

    I'll bet good money this will fail. One reason apps are so popular is that their user experience is so highly customised to their individual devices.

    • by pspahn (1175617)

      Agreed. Phones make no sense for even the current model to be sustainable. Put a browser on the phone, point the browser to a web site. App installed.

      Granted, I can see the point of having a library that simply links to a web site, but I wouldn't necessarily call that an app store.

  • From the first 2 opening paragraphs:
    "Mozilla has already brought the desktop Firefox experience to mobile devices long back as the Fennec browser"
    "Mozilla has designed a prototype of mobile app store"
    GNU can take over the world, but beware the dreaded Engrish.
  • has revealed it's plans

    has revealed it is plans?

  • Cart before horse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Monday November 22, 2010 @07:27AM (#34304456)

    I love the guys at Mozilla, but damn they're good at digging a hole for themselves.

    All mobile platforms have stores that offer apps. Including web stack apps, as both for iPhone, Symbian and Android, *officially approved* SDK-s exists that compile cross-platform apps driven by the built-in WebKit (plus extra API-s exposed to it, to make it an app).

    This means Mozilla will be creating a niche no one is asking for, and potentially shooting their chances of being on the iPhone, as Apple has shown it may approve video players and web browsers in some cases, but it'll never approve an App Store app.

    Everyone *everyone* I have seen install Mozilla's browser on a mobile says the same thing: make it faster, make it more efficient. I guess they thought this is not fancy enough, so let's put an app store clone... Sigh.

    • Let's say that Mozilla would need to have an EXTREMELY good app store, that starts fast, have fast and good apps that works WELL everywhere.

      Not half-assed polish, but really good stuff.. for this to work. That means if they were to release Angry Birds for it for example, it would work on w7, android, iOS, Symbian, Meego with no customization, and just as well as Angry Birds for iOS/Android (and the store would have to start "instant" no delay.)

      And I'm not sure they can deliver that.

      • Let's say that Mozilla would need to have an EXTREMELY good app store, that starts fast, have fast and good apps that works WELL everywhere.

        Not half-assed polish, but really good stuff.. for this to work. That means if they were to release Angry Birds for it for example, it would work on w7, android, iOS, Symbian, Meego with no customization, and just as well as Angry Birds for iOS/Android (and the store would have to start "instant" no delay.)

        And I'm not sure they can deliver that.

        Done and done: I have Angry Birds running on my Linux laptop... The Android SDK includes a phone emulator.

        As far as I can tell, there's no reason phone makers can't install Android on any device they want (hell, even jailbroken iphones can run Android). Android is cross platform.

        Also note: Games are hard to make perform well on so many platforms because you typically want to take full advantage of the hardware available. This is why "Minimum System Requirements" exist. At some point you have to remove fea

        • The was not to run this very game (Angry Birds) on a given platform. It's already running on all platforms, but they had to port it for each.

          The point is to have such a popular game working equally well on all platforms via Mozilla's app store.

          Not Angry Birds of course, it's pointless, but a game of the same level, it would mean any other such game would be written the same and be truly "write once run anywhere" (what java wanted to be)

          Android has custom app stores, by the way, as long as your phone is not

  • ..and their tendency to abuse every software paradigm.

    As I see it, app stores / software centers are meant to unify application sources and updates. This implies to me, that there should be one of it and probably the best place is on the platform level: the OS.

    If we start pushing in app stores on all other software stack levels (browsers, random websites, company specific app stores - I'm sure Adobe is working on something like that -, probably more will show up) then the whole idea misses it's point. Could

    • ..and their tendency to abuse every software paradigm.

      As I see it, app stores / software centers are meant to unify application sources and updates. This implies to me, that there should be one of it and probably the best place is on the platform level: the OS.

      Agreed, there should be one place to unify application sources and updates. I think an OS level muliti-repository system is in order. So, what we really need is the ability to add custom repositories to the "app store list", much like Linux repository management...

      It's up to the app developers not to flood each repo with multiple incompatible versions; Such complications will have to be ironed out, but I would really like the choice to add alternate app stores.

      Note: Mozilla's app store is not integrated in

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