Mozilla takes on Apple, Android with Open Web apps

Feb 13, 2012
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Firefox creator Mozilla has revealed its plans to take on the closed ecosystems of Apple, Google and others, challenging developers to consider the entire web as their potential marketplace, not just the App Store or Android Market. Outlined in the non-profit foundation's 2012 roadmap, Mozilla aims to "enable web apps that rival native [code]"; "The Web must be made easier to develop for than proprietary platforms" the organization insists, as well as revealing plans to broaden the existing Mozilla Marketplace to a range of devices.

"HTML5 is a compelling technology for developing apps, and is quickly improving. Combined with the freedom to build what you want and distribute it directly to users on your own terms, it has great potential. But just as there are gaps to be filled from a technology point of view, there are gaps to be filled from an ecosystem point of view. The Web lacks standard, consistent ways to find, rate, review, purchase and prove ownership of apps. Mozilla’s goal is to foster an ecosystem that combines the best elements of the Web with the best elements of the app model" Mozilla Foundation

Although it might be the easy - and, given the challenges faced from Google's Chrome, Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer, some might argue sensible - route to make the apps Firefox-only, Mozilla is targeting cross-browser compatibility. The common standards the group intends would "support multiple app stores, direct distribution of apps by app developers, app portability and true end-user ownership of their apps."

As for distributing that software, Mozilla plans to extend its existing web-app Marketplace to cover phones and tablets in addition to desktop users. Apps will be supported in any browser, no matter the device or OS, and developers will be able to release paid as well as free titles.

Part of Mozilla's challenge is opening up broad hardware access to apps created in HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, which currently lack the flexibility of native code. To do that, it's pushing ahead with "Boot to Gecko" (B2G), the web-powered mobile platform for phones and tablets that, while using a trimmed-down Android base layer, will boot straight into a browser-style interface for native support of HTML5 and other web-app coding. Mozilla is aiming for a public product demo of B2G sometime this quarter.

[via CNET]


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