FirefoxOS appeared at a time when there was huge potential being actively being pushed forward and innovated on by the two largest tech companies in the space, and people already had two great options to choose from. It filled no real need, and nobody wanted it.
For Mozilla to stay alive, they need to pick a space that is currently desperately needed but being ignored by large corporations and the government: privacy and identity. Mozilla could be the champion of the Snowden era, yet instead they're distracting themselves with IoT, VR and other shiny new toys.
(And yes, I realize that users don't care about privacy. But nobody cared about web standards, either: it's all about packaging. That's Mozilla's strength.)
Mozilla is a non-profit with a mission (https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/manifesto/). It's time they start acting like one again.
I'm hoping that this might mean they can direct some resources towards Persona development again. Or at least experiment with something new in this area.
Re: privacy / security, I really wish they hadn't dropped Thunderbird.
I really wish Mozilla would change their mind and start developing this again. It feels like they expected all major websites to support it on the first year, and, when that didn't happen, they decided to drop it.
Pastery looks awesome. It appears that you're using Pygments server-side?
Why would a pastebin site need auth/login/userids ?
All I can think of is editing pastes, but isn't it easier to just create a new (anonymous) paste instead of editing ?
I'd prefer not to have accounts, and Ghostbin tries to avoid keeping identifiable information around, but they do come in fairly handy for maintaining control of the things you've pasted and the right to revoke them.
Session cookies aren't quite up to the task, since they can't stick around forever and are difficult to bring with you between workspaces.
(edit to elaborate on "avoid keeping identifiable information": account names are hashed, the account never stores user identification, and a paste doesn't track which account created it. For most intents and many purposes, the creator of a paste is anonymous. We could get into drawing correlations between all the pastes owned by an account, but I'm not particularly interested in sitting around and doing that.)
Though, these can be solved with tokens per post, it's tough to remember/maintain multiple tokens, doesn't work out in practice.
I don't think I'd have started Pastery if I'd seen Ghostbin, as I was looking for a pastebin that wasn't ugly, and I hadn't found any that qualified.
Have you had any abuse problems at all?
Does the same stand for Persona?
Perhaps instead of asking Firefox to do the legwork we should be contributing some of our own time to the projects we want to see succeed.
"with Mozilla Labs somewhat sudden dissolution, we were unexpectedly asked to demonstrate traction and commercial adoption that simply wasn't there."
Commercial adoption? What does that even mean in the context of MoCo? What does MoCo sell? And 24 months? Makes no sense, even for MoCo. Google is consistently a small player in the Cloud Computing Platform space. Their response: "we're not going away." MoCo has scores of millions in the bank. I'm still baffled.
Obviously, it doesn't need adoption to "survive", but it does need adoption to succeed in its goals: rescuing users from stupid hack-job login systems.
I would compare it more to Chrome: Google made Chrome with the goal of getting the web to work better for some people, so they could more easily consume Google's various services. You could say that Chrome's bottom line was "increased Google service adoption": if Chrome renders faster and provides more HTML5 features, then Google gets more and happier customers for their products.
Mozilla doesn't have "services" that Persona is a loss-leader for, but there's still that same ROI calculation of whether Persona is achieving its goals, and measuring adoption rate is a good proxy for that.
The important thing, that Mozilla failed to do, was to actually understand what an adoption curve for something like Persona should look like, and what things affect it. They needed to heavily advertise it (to developers, not to users!) over about two years, and then start looking at the adoption curve.
On top of that, I'd argue IM + video/audio chat that respects privacy is something that desperately needs better solutions.
I'd push software forward, and then innovate on protocols. Peer to peer might be the only way to achieve true privacy.
Although the market for centralized secure messaging is currently being served adequately by the likes of Signal and Telegram, centralized messaging platforms inevitably leak metadata.
I don't want to belittle the work done by teams that have already started work on distributed messaging platforms like Tox and Matrix (and my own proof-of-concept, Toc ), but Mozilla is in a much better position to tackle the problem of decentralized, private messaging that also has great UX, and not just in terms of sheer resources:
1) They have (or at least had) a decentralized identity management platform in Persona.
2) They have a decentralized, zero-knowledge data sync platform in Firefox Sync.
3) They have a lot of influence in the web standards community that they can leverage to push a new federated messaging protocol to succeed XMPP.
This is the kind of work that I think Mozilla should be doing, because they can do it better than anyone else who's willing (i.e. not for-profit corporations, because they have very little to gain by building decentralized apps and federated protocols that have no lock-in whatsoever).
Seeing how hostile most of the western governments are toward privacy on the internet, that's probably not the best long term strategy for Mozilla though. They could quickly find themselves labelled terrorist organisation ( by mistake ) and have their account frozen ( by mistake ) for a long period of time ( due process, can't rush those stuff )
Here is a recent article about it http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/11/tor-should...
I'd love to see it happen, but who would the money come from?
In the internet-landscape, Mozilla is the one that tries to intervene on the user's behalf against commercial interests. Maybe they thought they could do the same for the much more competitive mobile market.
The bigger problem i think is that Mozilla didn't make a phone that appealed to influencers - the high tech crowd similar to the early adopters for Firefox. Instead they tried to go for the emerging markets that was already well served by other alternatives, and who aren't ideal early adopters. From what i saw the user experience and quality of their Platform wasn't top notch either (and html apps still suck in 2015).
Ubuntu was on the right track with Ubuntu Edge (the Indiegogo campaign showed that there was definitely a demand for it), but they set their goals too high and since then they seem to be dragging their feet in getting into the market.
On Android you can install a custom launcher to get rid of that annoying Google Search bar, you can replace Google Search with DuckDuckGo's app, you can install Firefox for Android on it and completely replace Chrome, you can install apps from third party sources like F-Droid or Amazon's Appstore. In Marshmallow the previously broken permissions system has been finally redesigned. Chrome for Android is pretty cool lately, as it also does push notifications, the app manifest and it does a much better job for making web apps first class citizens than Safari on iOS or Firefox on Android or whatever Opera is doing. You can actually run Facebook in your Android browser now and pretend that it's a native app.
And Android is also open source, I mean yes, while it's dependent on Google's Play services, like for push notifications or its location services, those can be replaced and Android is very much fork-able. Hey, Amazon did it.
Ubuntu was doomed from the start and Android is light years away from its competition imho. I mean, experiments are cool, but if your mobile OS is less usable than Android from 5 years ago, that's a failed experiment.
You could go with custom launcher/mod/rom/ route but that brings its own possible set of problems - performance, battery life, broken functionality (some banking apps wont run on rooted phones), more spyware(from launchers), etc. It is not an acceptable solution for the masses.
Amazon - well they are just another company trying to ransom/loot you. Cyanogen mod is promising if they can overcome challenges (how many apps work without google play services?).
Furthermore Google play services is deeply embedded into android, whose key purpose is to ransom you to the highest bidder. Android is fundamentally compromised by the conflicting business interests of its primary developer (Google).
edit: I wouldn't say that Ubuntu was doomed from the start, but they certainly missed the boat.
"If you build it they will come" isn't a valid benchmark when there's already two options with massive market share that consumers are more or less happy with.
(Since it's talked about in some replies, I live in the US).
If there was to be any market interest, I thought their targeting and marketing efforts like this were pretty spot-on.
(Not implying there is any correlation between those two last facts.)
I live in Poland and I was lucky that I could easily find a cheap FxOS phone, which actually I am using now. This is the only truly private phone available here. It is a pity that Mozilla abandoned it. Bigger pity is that people do not give a sht about their privacy and open standards.
The feedback I received from the people that tested the platform development wise was that they had not built it yet.
So that explains the lack of marketing.
Somewhere in the FF OS 2.x series, an upgrade seriously made the keyboard unusable, and I never knew where to turn for bug trackers / support. I had also tried to make IPv6 work, experimented a bit with the app system.. I'm an average programmer, but I participate in a few large projects.. Firefox has always been a mystery to me, with lots of code names and hard to use bug tracker.
Huge fan of Mozilla otherwise, so hurts a bit to say this.. other than that, it was a functional phone for 2 years.
Android ... 81.2%
iOS ... 15.8%
Windows Phone ... 2.2%
Others ... 0.8%
Android ... 82.6%
iOS ... 14.1%
Windows Phone ... 2.3%
Others ... 0.9%
@downvoter: it's a forcast by the well known IDC, also the current market share (2015) is interesting on its own
Of course, there's relatively little that truly takes advantage of that set up, and making the user experience more pleasant would make a huge difference, but android understands mouse and keyboard input just fine. Microsoft may be somewhat further along on this front, but I don't think it's as much as you think - the apps that can run in this way are not full windows applications, and there are relatively few of them at present.
But that is going to soon change as MS is working with Intel to launch Intel powered phones (x86). 
Regardless of whether Windows phone succeeds or not, I believe the path they are taking will eventually be where all the OSes will end up. The saying "The best camera is the one that is with you" may hold true for computers in the future.
Imagine hotels & coffee shops offering a dock for rooms/tables and the only thing you need is your phone. Plug it in and voila!, your personalized desktop with all its settings and data. This might even be secure, cost effective and more efficient method for portable desktop.
Plus people keep forgetting that there aren't any open options for the radio OS.
The second leg of UWP's 'write a single app and have it go everywhere' was mobile. We've all seen how that's been going.
The final (and biggest/main) leg is traditional Windows. They whiffed badly with the Windows RT devices. Now all the tablets are running the full-blown OS. That means they all run Win32 apps.
Win32 is good enough so why would a developer port their app to UWP when the first two legs are either unavailable or have a very small install base of customers?
All the new APIs since Windows 8 are only available in WinRT.
For example, the upgrade path to MFC is XAML, which is only available for WinRT applications.
From a software perspective, Android has supported this forever. From a hardware perspective, there've been Android devices where accompanying docking solutions was heavily marketed, though none in the last few years, because its something users keep not really wanting in practice, even if they conceptually like the idea in the abstract.
Plus, a substantial fraction of the price and size of a "second computing device" that's larger than your phone is going to be the display, so docking doesn't really solve much of anything (especially when the devices are all cloud connected.) There's zero friction moving between by Android phone and my 12" tablet -- with BT keyboard and, if I felt like using one, BT mouse. And I could use the BT keyboard and mouse with the phone itself, if I wanted to. Either device could connect to an external monitor via HDMI with an inexpensive adaptor (and either can cast its display via Google Cast.)
What, in practical terms, does docking solve?
And most people don't want to dock their computing device to their TV as a monitor; there are uses for TV-as-output device, and they're well-covered by things like Google Cast and similar technologies.
> You can take peripherals you already own and make a 1-plug docking station without significant cost.
Only if I already own peripherals; i.e., if I already have a desktop or a laptop that I use with external peripherals instead of just the built-in interface. And, I only need a "docking station" if those peripherals are wired, rather than, say, Bluetooth.
Which might be the case for the monitor, sure, but you can already do that. HDMI dongles or cables -- the only one-plug docking station you need in a world with Bluetooth mice and keyboards -- are readily available and not expensive for existing, non-Windows mobile devices.
The difference with browsers was that improvements in the browser led to clear improvements in web browsing experience, which even the least technically minded could notice. What changes in privacy and identity are Mozilla going to pioneer that result in obvious benefits that those who don't know anything about these issues (i.e. the majority) will notice and clearly attribute to Mozilla's products? I really wish there were such things but I have yet to see any presented.
No. I'm asking why the parent thinks people WILL care about such ethics.
Between "ethical ad-removal: keeps some ads" and "non-ethical: it removes all of them", I don't think most people will give it a second though to go for the "no ads" option.
And they certainly won't go out of their way to find if there an "ethical ad-removal" option even exists in the first place.
>I think most "ordinary" people do feel at least a tiny bit guilty about nuking every single ad on web sites that they use regularly. I know I do.
I think those are probably outliers. The same way people (millions) didn't give a damn about skipping ads with their TiVo's or what have you.
You're making up a choice that doesn't exist. No browser presents people with that choice. The choice is: by default you get ads. If they don't upset you, you do nothing. Only if they upset you a lot, you will seek out an ad blocker. Ethical ad blocking means blocking things that significantly degrade the experience of the page or harms the user (such as through privacy violation), while not blocking things that don't harm the user.
So the answer to your question, why WILL people care about ethics - I think they care about not being harmed by slow pages and privacy violation. That is a way of saying they care about other people being ethical to them, and not harming them. A browser that doesn't harm them by default is something they will like. Other browsers will not implement such defaults because there is no standard to support it and the parties who currently make browsers cannot agree on one because they are fundamentally conflicted by their commercial interests.
I will always use the "remove all ads" answer, no matter what.
I'm still on metered bandwidth. And when I'm not at work, ads are another vector for malware.
Firefox OS seems to be something between Android and IOS. They are trying to solve all the problems of those two but on the end are just average. Just another OS that really looks like Android for regular user.
Redesign everything and rethink the basics - go the way Windows Phone went, but with open environment and much more developer friendly space. Widnows Phone is an amazing piece of UIX and with great ideas, but it failed regarding supporting developers and making its store user friendly. This is where Firefox should aim, not another "better" version of something everyone knows to well.
Plasma Mobile has the right idea. Build the platform, let communities form around the layers above it (and below it) and just try to get people working together on one goal (especially since all these mobile OS projects are all using Qt, all using Wayland, all using Linux). Lets just hope the KDE guys don't vaporware this one like Plasma Active, it sure would be lovely if Unity 8 got rebased on top of it, and used xdg-app like the community is pushing towards. Firefox could even get in on it as the default browser with great integrated webapp support.
Also it sounds like your comment is technical point of view. Users dont care of that. If mobile system cannot attract regular users, then it is dead.
If you don't get on Sprint / AT&T / Verizon / Tmobile store shelves you are DOA before you even think about appealing to users switching.
But something like Plasma Mobile does not need to care too much about that. If it has the technicals right, and can run Android apps, it can be an enthusiast platform nobody else adopts because Google has strong armed manufacturer control to keep that kind of competition off store shelves if they wanted to. Its also incredibly expensive to buy market share like that, something none of these participants have the money to do.
Since we took the opposite approach, focused on product first and demonstrated user traction and sales the stores and carriers came to us to talk and it changed the whole power dynamic.
Every year brings several new mobile brands to the market. Most you will never hear of because they're not exciting or special. They don't focus on making users excited about their unique product, rather they focus on business deals that even if they go through end up in no sales.
This might be so in US, but in most European countries we buy our phones ourselves with pre-paid options.
Checked the ebay listings again, there are a few sellers from Australia, the USA but seems like the ZTE listing is gone.
The major problem of FirefoxOS though was trying to pitch the whole "everyone can (re)write apps" to a market that is all about user lock-in.
Every OEM and carrier wants to be the landlord of the phone "owner", taking a bite out of everything the user does with the device.
But if every app is a web page, and all the code is out in the open, it is quite easy for the user to disable and strip out rent extraction code.
And yes your right about Mozilla being distracted. And sadly they are not alone. The whole FOSS world seem hell bent on wasting energy doing all kinds of shiny projects and social outreach.
I'm tempted to call it the curse of SXSW.
> But if every app is a web page, and all the code is out in
> the open, it is quite easy for the user to disable and
> strip out rent extraction code.
And there is also the issue that if your app is just the web page, it is either universal and thus crap on all devices, or highly customized for each platform at which point it would be easier and less messy just to write it natively.
I was thinking of developing a really minimalistic almost commandline interface for my notes, address book, dialer and calendar.
I would love to see what cool creative people could come up with.
"it's all about packaging. That's Mozilla's strength."
On this we start to deviate. I think its all about platform. And you only get mainstream users on your platform if its awesome in the "mainly used" ways.
Its like the difference between a doctorate of psychology vs medicine. With one you can help people who really want to be helped, the other, you can give someone a flu shot and they are treated.
They have a real chance if they ride the social justice and progressivism train, though. It's hot and unlike privacy, people care about it a lot. They've already set the precedent with the Eich controversy. They just need to double down and start promoting it better. Take initiative instead of being reactive. Not too hard when the organizations you're up against are gigantic multi-billion-dollar companies who can't afford to fire every conservative employee, not comply with government regulations their audience views negatively, or kowtow too hard to diversity for fear of angering the technolibertarians.
OR will NEVER win. A secure and/or private thing that you can't use simply CANNOT win vs something that actually works. If it doesn't work well being secure or anything missing the point why people even get the tool.
Sadly many companies totally miss that and think they'll get lucky. That's sort of sad.
That's true. The problem is: what is a good product? Good is relative to what the insecure garbage on the market is offering. You can move fast, drastically add complexity, keep it extra cheap, and so on if quality or security aren't on the table. So, a good product that meets one's needs can look like a bad one if it's secure and makes right tradeoffs vs the "good product" that sells its users out.
One simple example is how several companies did high assurance VPN's whose trusted computing base was very difficult to hack. Yet, to get there, they had to eliminate most features competition was adding to their all-in-one appliances. I pointed out one could just chain them together with the high assurance solution being the interface to untrusted network. Rest of functionality can be in next device. Even such a simple scenario was almost always rejected as it was cheaper or simpler to have one do-it-all(-like-crap) device.
Apply such logic throughout entire industry and we have whole, insecure stacks that can't be made better without sacrifice. Nonetheless, companies keep trying with medium-assurance, full-featured appliances that are easy to configure. They sell very few and most go out of business. Enough said.
I think this differs highly per region. In some European countries, people are very privacy-aware. I know quite a number of people who refuse to use Google's services or Dropbox, because of privacy reasons.
As for security companies selling hardened phones, etc. They are typically very expensive and/or inconvenient.
Guess I need to try to market stuff in Europe instead. ;)
Re expensive or inconvenient
They're often perceived as expensive. Truth is most COTS is too cheap: corners cut everywhere to get it at that price point which gives unrealistic expectations on price. So, key firewall or server is five digits instead of three to four. Don't need many of them but good luck selling even one. Always will be an uphill battle.
Far as convenience, that can be improved on and some apps are very convenient. The users' cut-off point is the real issue. Do they want one thoughtless step for everything? Can't do secure comms that was as verification requires extra step somewhere. Same with trust or key mgmt in other things. Im with us eliminating unnecessary complexity & technical stuff but users need to meet us halfway on convenience angle.
Security and privacy are very hard issues to address. So any solution will be temporary, very restrictive or fall short of it's promise.
For instance you can't have total privacy even if you never use Google and use tracker blockers, erase your browser's fingerprint etc. you are still sharing information with servers you're visiting.
Notice that last part about downloading? That's the key. We could download Phoenix, and run it. I can't download FirefoxOS, and run it. My devices are locked to what they can run. If mobile appliances were like personal computers, then a Phoenix could rise. But it's a completely different situation, so there is no way to compete like you could with web browsers.
It's not ideal, as the integration points don't appear to be fully worked out and it doesn't always perform very well, but I'm sure it could be turned into essentially a downloadable FirefoxOS as a hook to try to get people to get a native device next time, if some development effort was available.
I actually always liked the idea of a FirefoxOS. Linux style operating system alternatives could need a proper fucking GUI and general average-user-oriented design. Firefox is amazing at that for a non-profit, they could actually pull it off.
It's based on HTML5, but because of how webrtc has to punch through firewalls, it uses one of their partners to initiate the connection (Telefonica?). After that it's mostly peer to peer.
In general, users don't want any ads at all showing in their browser.
They don't want them as part of web pages, they don't want them embedded in videos, and they surely don't want them as part of the browser itself!
This should have been obvious given the popularity of various ad-blocking extensions for Firefox.
Going against the obvious wishes of a product's users is something that's deserving of criticism.
I do block anything that I notice if it looks like a tracker, but I am ready to believe that Mozilla's description of client-side ad selection was correct.
Ads are enormously important for a lot of quality content out there to exist. Destroying them now, without good alternatives, is destructive to the web.
For a sort of analogy, the presence of pay-to-read newspapers hasn't precluded the presence of free-to-read newspapers (New York Times vs. Metro ), nor has free-to-read papers killed off pay-to-read newspapers, which are generally higher quality. Savvy digital content providers will find a way to still make money, even if it's not ads as they exist today.
Seems like a perfect example of self-destructive/tragedy-of-the-commons behavior to me.
There is no middle ground. It's not as easy as "your website offers so little that it shouldn't exist", it's simply "users block ads, and they don't want to pay for access", so there's really no great options here.
However, ad's don't have to be pure evil. Sure they might be not be preferred, but we can totally create an environment in which we have non-intrusive, non-privacy invading advertisements, it's just a matter of figuring it out.
The ad industry had enough time to figure this out and went from bad to terrible - from popups to distribution of trojans (due to a lack of quality control). It's not surprising that people are fed up with advertisements. Any loss of income is the publisher's own fault, because they allowed ads to get completely out of hand.
Bills gotta be paid, but when push comes to shove, users don't pay the bills for a lot of this type of content, so ad's are the only option left.
There is no middle ground.
I am surprised by the lack of imagination on a news site for startups ;). There are all kinds of possibilities that haven't really been explored. Music was considered to be a lost cause 5 or 10 years ago when CD had collapsed and everyone and their dog was using Bittorrent or other peer to peer networks. Now there is a quickly growing ecosystem of streaming music services.
And at one point people just wanted IE compatibility for their webpages to load.
If you accept that targeted ads are a part of the web eco system, then its absolutely within the remit of Mozillas mission to explore how to serve targeted ads while respecting privacy.
Are you the combo breaker?
I'm never offended by the presence of ads themselves.
Maybe it's because I grew up with them? Maybe I'm just more comfortable with ignoring them?
That the general public doesn't care about that is one thing, that all the people crtizising them here don't seem to care is another.
It failed for the same, predictable reasons: Yes, there are many web developers in the world compared to the number of (in this example) embedded rtos UI C/C++ developers. However, on resource-constrained platforms (as phones tend to be, since they are battery-powered) it's really hard and requires brilliant developers to be able to build web-based UIs that can compete in performance with non-web-based UIs built by (in comparison) not-so-brilliant developers.
And on top of this, Mozilla decided to shoot for (super) low-end devices as their main target - presumably because their bizdev people had spotted a theoretical opportunity, but failed to connect with engineering, or vice-versa. The first time I saw that I just laughed out loud, to be honest.
They actually have a time-honored tradition of following in the footsteps of Opera when it comes to ways of making money. Those sponsored tiles introduced in Firefox last year? Opera did that in 2008/2009-ish. (Not to mention the concept of a graphical speed dial on the new tab page itself...) That Google search field to the right of the URL field? Opera pioneered that business model in 2001 - followed by Mozilla and Apple half a decade later. Sorry, I get carried away. :D
Having been there (ex mozillian, lots of time spent on FFOS), I wouldn't characterize it like this. The leaders of the project were two engineers, not a pointy hair on their heads (at least at first).
There were certainly plenty of us who felt like trying to cram this much into a low-end device was insanity (when was the last time you saw any web browser use under 128mb of ram?), and we definitely raised this objection. I feel like the pathology I observed was more planning fallacy / overoptimism on the part of engineering leaders than anything else (I'd certainly be the last to claim that I've never been guilty of that).
There's also another fallacy that I don't have a name for, which is basically "this is the only (way we see how) to do it, so we're going to make it work." That is, it was hard to imagine a FFOS device competing with a high-end device, so they decided to focus on the low end. That's the only way we can do it, so we'll make it work. But that causes you to perhaps lose sight of the real question: "can we make it work?"
It's not clear to me whether FFOS would have had a shot if not for the focus on low-end hardware. Having been there, I feel like the architecture itself was really hard to program against. Bugs that should have been easy -- "make sure the alarm clock actually goes off", "don't leak apps" -- required lots of specialized knowledge and time to fix. But certainly a lot of time was also spent on performance/memory optimization.
Just my two cents. A lot of smart people worked hard on this project for many years, and there were many impressive technical accomplishments along the way. Look up Nuwa if you're interested; that shit is nuts.
> They actually have a time-honored tradition of following in the footsteps of Opera when it comes to ways of making money.
"Opera had it first" indeed. :)
planning fallacy / overoptimism on the part of engineering leaders than anything else
So yes, Mozilla is simply a poorly ran organization.
I think it's worthwhile to remember at the time Firefox OS launched much of Android ran on the Dalvik VM, so it wasn't so clear cut that the approach was so doomed to fail.
I'm not an expert on this (this is where I thread on thin ice), but my understanding is that the HTML/CSS logdoc/layout tree model is inherently non-performant compared to a more traditional hierarchical windowed object oriented model. It is too easy to write HTML/CSS that is not performant (it's way too easy to accidentally cause performance issues), while it is a lot more natural to write performant windowing/OO code. And inversely, harder to write code that is not performant.
It depends a lot on what you're doing, and how much data you're processing. If we go by the premise that you're processing more data locally than you would in a web app (because you don't need to worry about the latency and you don't have a server to do the pre-processing and filtering of the data before it reaches the client), then actual VM performance is more significant. The last time I looked at any profiles of browsers on Gmail or FB, JIT'd code actually accounts for several of the most expensive functions (and you will notice if you disable the JIT). JS performance does matter—even if DOM performance dominates in the case of the common website (and note that Mozilla has actually been doing quite a lot of interesting work around teaching the JS VM more about the DOM, including rewriting parts in JS, which allows JIT optimisation to happen).
It's definitely true that it's easier to write non-performant code using HTML/CSS (and <canvas> and WebGL don't really help here—because it's hard to ensure data gets correctly passed to accessibility layers), but I think that the majority of mobile apps are simple enough for it to not be a concern.
but my suspicion is that it really is as simple as: even really-well-optimized html/css/js that needs to go through a browser core will suffer performance-wise compared to something with 10-15 less layers of indirection. (Like a traditional windowing toolkit.)
The Android UI toolkit isn't exactly efficent (ha!), but still seems to beat Firefox OS on super-low-end hardware judging from the reviews I have seen.
The internal windowing toolkit and java-like mini language with a VM that we made for Opera Mini 5/Opera Mobile 10 with both J2ME and C VM implementations was like 3x faster than the Android UI toolkit with Dalvik for typical windowing tasks. Without any super-fancy optimizations...
Much more problematic is the lack of "premium content" i.e. services that — even if they are basically just webapps — don't work except on Android/iOS. This is a particularly vicious cycle; it's hard to convince anyone to put in the effort to support minority platforms, and it's hard to get users unless you support the same content as other platforms (see also: Windows Phone, which by all accounts is an excellent product that almost no one uses).
There's also the fact that FirefoxOS is some years behind the other platforms in terms of developers and the competition has ~infinite resources, which means that some parts are lagging behind feature wise.
Having said all of that, I don't think that Opera is a bad analog for the difficulties FirefoxOS faces, only it's not Opera Platform specifically but Presto in general. It had the same kind of issues with limited support from content creators and relatively available resources.
This is not to say that the browsers of today are optimally architected, of course. (In fact, I think they're quite suboptimally architected for 2015 hardware. The "it's too easy to fall off the fast paths" problem of HTML/CSS is a symptom of legacy browser architecture, not a problem with the layout/styling model.)
The problem is that the phones currently dominating the market in developed countries have native apps, with slick interfaces - enabled by mid to high end SoCs.
Trying to produce vaguely similar experiences with low-end SoCs is going to be very hard, even without the additional handicap of doing everything with web technologies.
If anything, the only way that could've worked in the current market is on ultra high-end phone hardware, and with a focus on privacy & security to attract the rich & technically savvy end of the market.
Started using Opera since ~2000 and really liked it. Really innovative (tabs, mouse gestures, download manager, ...) and fast! Even an email client was included :) !
But replaced it with Firefox by the time FF had tabs and was fast enough, due to 'trust/privacy' reasons. For the same reasons I do not use chrome.
And if FF keeps disappointing me and Opera gains trust I can imagine a switch :) (hmmh, but how if closed source?)
To his credit, Jon a year later championed that Opera Mini needed to be free/without "in your face ads" in the critical first couple of years. This allowed it to reach 250+ million monthly actives (it still has that!). And we did came up with really lucrative monetization models later on that worked without sacrificing the user experience.
I don't buy the argument about a lack of investment in Presto. IIRC there were like 90 (most of them really good) people working on Presto at its peak. And we still couldn't keep up. (And most of those issues were about lacking desktop market share, which caused sites to de-prioritize Opera, anyway.)
When it comes to lacking desktop market share, it's undeniable that has an effect on site compatibility—people kept on supporting IE6 till a few years ago, after all, despite all its flaws. If Opera had more marketshare, it could've afforded to not keep up (though then we'd have articles about how Opera is the new IE!). I think, however, site compatibility was less about marketshare in later years and more about ancient incompatibilities (percentages rounding down, keyboard events, range events, selection, document loading/unloading) that were increasingly important in an increasingly dynamic web. People were deliberately deciding not to support Opera at that point because it involved more than a trivial amount of work because of bugs like those and the lack of marketshare.
There's a fair overview available in the quarterly reports.
Actually, when I checked just now I saw that I can share it since they actually have published a nice brochure about the scheme :).
Basically the scheme was: get lots and lots of users. Then go to each operator and say.. hey.. you know these users that you are having a really hard time to monetize because you don't have a direct in-app/phone channel to them? We have an app that (for example) 20 million of your customers use every month. Our offer to you is that for a cost for X USD/month/user we will expose your services in the default speed dial of this app that your customers love to use. This worked exceptionally well.
Thank you - I didn't know about this.
In terms of regular users, there are tons of dirt cheap chinese no-name android devices that more or less work. For 100 euros, you can get an acceptable Android phone from a major manufacturer (LG, etc). FirefoxOS was competing in a similar price range, however offered much less to the end user. I guess it's fair to say that it didn't deliver any extra value.
When I was using FirefoxOS and poking around the code base, I saw potential in their web-first platform as an introduction to programming. It's much easier to write some basic HTML, CSS and JS than to figure how to do the equivalent in Java for Android, etc.
However, things like ionic or phonegap and reasonably good, and it's hard to compete with them as they produce something fairly acceptable and available to run on the vast majority of the smartphones.
At the end of the day, I really appreciate Mozilla's work on this project. Thanks to all the volunteers who contributed to the project. You are amazing people :)
- "WebMaker", whatever that does.
- The $60 Mozilla hoodie.
- Their world tour of meetups.
- The really fancy headquarters overlooking SF bay.
A tight focus on Firefox might be a win. I'm looking forward to an all-Rust browser.
I do not begrudge high their salaries in the slightest, but I can't help but think bringing on folks with half the salary of the above employees would buy enough coders to do more innovation, which they really need. The Technical Lead in 2013 got $179,000 (the job is not listed in the financials in 2014).
The those three top job cost the equivalent of 20% of the Foundations revenue in the 2014 year ($13.5 million, more or less evenly split between donations and "program service revenue").
 Year end 2013 Financials: https://static.mozilla.com/moco/en-US/pdf/2013_Mozilla_Found...
 Year end 2014 Financials: https://static.mozilla.com/moco/en-US/pdf/2014_Mozilla_Found...
Edit: revised 2014 figures higher as I was not looking at total compensation.
You state that as if it's a bad thing. It's the best news I heard in years! Firefox could certainly use more engineering resources especially with the recently extended platform coverage (iOS).
Just one example why Seamonkey is important (for me at least).
So it actually does exactly what you want?!
I can assure you that they do not, because Firefox requires heavy tweaking to run comfortably in 1 gigabyte of RAM.
Seamonkey is real nice though.
there used to be a website - arewemobileyet.com which listed the API's that we identified as necessary to make FxOS possible.
You can find it in web.archive - http://web.archive.org/web/20140401194921/http://arewemobile...
We successfully standardized most of them! :)
Next time you want to spread theories and rumors, check background of who you are questioning ;)
Source: I work at Mozilla and on Firefox OS project.
It took Mozilla quite a while before executive team started considering it and investing in it.
The post I linked sums up the vibe from the very beginning.
I believe that there was time when the goals have shifted to aim at producing a real product and gaining market share etc., but the original goals are stated in the post and I believe we are very successful in accomplishing them.
The hedge failed, so Mozilla is in a tricky situation that it can be kicked out of the mobile ecosystem entirely by its competitors.
I think that Firefox OS as a phone operating system will always be available for hackers to port and install on their own devices.
But is also almost entirely vapour.
Seeing this news gave me relief that Mozilla might be pulling their heads out of the clouds chasing fantastical dreams of mobile platforms, but if anything IoT is worse!
I work for an M2M company whose been around for 25 years now, in some form or another. M2M is the backbone of IoT and while it isn't as glamorous, it's a large space. Industrial gases, especially helium, are very lucrative right now.
However, IoT devices should not be consumer-facing tech. IoT devices are on average far more expensive and have shoddy software/firmware. Even when the software is fixed, IoT will remain a niche range of products until their quality surpasses that of the traditional version of the product. From a business perspective, anything IoT hardly makes sense as a standalone product.
M2M is a fantastic field. But IoT is not.
But the market is there, and it is huge. (mainly industrial, energy & transport applications)
IoT now is like the early personal computers, they were too expensive and almost no one knew why they needed them.
- I'd start with embedded environments: Arduino / STM32(F1/F4) / RaspberryPi see how to code for them and how to make them talk to each other (UART/SPI/I2C/CAN...)
- Then I'd check how simple kernel modules are made, and try to mess around the kernel in raspberryPi and make something that outputs a value on the terminal and via I2C.
- I'd check the "concept" of middlewares and start by something simple WComp (written in C#). It is not used in the industry but it gives you a pretty good sens of how things should work.
- For beginners I'd recommend to use Parse for any project where you need a "cloud" infrastructure (Database, API, users, privileges,...)
- You should also check how fully distributed systems (that operate in a peer-to-peer manner) work.
- After that it comes to ressource optimisation and things like that.
EDIT (You should also check these) :
- UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) is way to get devices to automatically discover and understand each other.
- MQTT: publish-subscribe TCP/IP messaging protocol (I use it for push notifications)
 : http://www.wcomp.fr
 : https://www.parse.com/
Mobile was already mature with a well entrenched duopoly when FFOS began. IoT is still up for grabs.
Mozilla very well could change their focus and compete in that space, but a newcomer without any entrenched ideas would be better off. So would a big company with the resources to spin off and fund a relatively independent branch to work in IoT.
Mozilla's only big success has been Firefox. Firefox succeeded because it was competing in a market with only one other player, and that player wasn't innovating at all.
Now the browser market is different and firefox remains popular because of free software nerds, people who like its customization power (something that Mozilla is risking with its recent changes to addons, although it looks like they're treading carefully), and people who switched to it from internet explorer because their kids told them to and don't care to use Chrome.
Mozilla is good at disrupting, including both developing a superior product and getting people to care about it, but they're bad at... basically everything else, business wise. Like any organization they can get better, but doing so would require a level of change that might ultimately just make them less good at what they are good at. It seems that's what they're trying to do, and it seems that's what's happening.
gkoberger's toplevel comment might offer a good opportunity. They started down this path with personas, but then abandoned it when they couldn't make developers care about it. Maybe they've lost their touch.
It pains me to say it, since they've done so much good for the things I care about, but Mozilla's time might be ending.
I think that platforms with a thriving ecosystem in other markets have an advantage over Firefox OS, and Firefox OS doesn't offer any compelling advantages over, say, Linux (since at the kernel level, that's what it IS) to offset that disadvantage.
As a person that runs FirefoxOS on my main phone (LG Nexus 5 running FFOS v2.5), this sucks to hear. I used to own a Flame which was the developer reference phone and basically the best ffos phone you could buy except the fx0 which is for sale only with contract in japan (or very very expensively otherwise), and it was pretty good phone, and got better with every update.
However, as far as FirefoxOS (aka b2g/boot2gecko) itself goes, it's open source, so it's got a life of it's own (though it may be significantly less contributed to from now on) -- and I'm totally OK with that. I will continue to run FirefoxOS because it still does the things it should (makes calls, text messages, use apps) -- and can be (relatively) easily ported to existing phones (some flagships).
Sad day, but also kind of fine, because they did what they set out to do, and I'm running this OS on my phone, and it's verifiably not garbage (I think it's great). Looking forward to a leaner, meaner, faster Firefox on my desktop -- I'll be getting my hands dirty with FFOS on my phone in the meantime.
Did not expect that Sailfish OS would outlive Firefox OS.
Not one of these camps alone can come close to Android. If they had worked together - Firefox, Sailfish, Ubuntu, and Plasma, even WebOS - we may not have the defeated corpses of a dozen half baked dreams but instead have a common phone platform that were truly open and community driven.
As it is, the only way to compete with Android is with a better software stack (the ADK and bionic / surfaceflinger stack is awful hacked togther crap, and Linux / Wayland / QT promise to be way better if they ever ship a marketable result) and an open governance model. And what about Tizen? It exists, it is even shipping on a few devices, and you can contribute upstream patches, albeit with the same kind of bullshit copyright assignment that Ubuntu and the FSF use. Why exactly aren't we supporting that platform? Because we aren't the rulers? If its open we can fork it, and its mostly GPL so nobody can close it off again.
I still think Plasma Mobile might be the salvation. Outside of the kiddish Gnome vs KDE trolls (nobody working on either project actually engages in that crap, since both projects share protocols to inter-operate most of the time via freedesktop standards) everyone should be able to get behind that as the base to put Unity 8 / Firefox / whatever Sailfish's shell is on top, plus if Shashlik ever works you get Android apps, which are pretty much required.
And for Mozilla this may mean more resources spent into Firefox for Android, a mobile browser that is turning out to be the browser of choice for power users due to its extensions, an awesome browser that could use some love from Mozilla as it's lagging behind Chrome in terms of standards relevant for mobiles (e.g. push notifications, app manifest). And Firefox on the desktop needs some love as well. The multiprocess support is almost there, except for a list of bugs that keep delaying it.
Mozilla has many things on its plate. Firefox OS is a cool experiment, but it didn't work, so time to move on.
Exactly the thing Mozilla should do - focus on Firefox and maybe even continue to invest in making Thunderbird better. There are a lot of reasons why that approach is more likely to succeed.
I think a native app will always give a better experience because they can always just contain a browser view (it's basically a superset). Plus native code will always be more efficient and in mobile, that matters.
The integration argument is decent, but it's only really relevant for apps that get a lot of use, not the long tail of stuff that you use once or twice.
The billions of installed apps indicates that the friction isn't significant.
That's how everything worked back in the Gingerbread days. Android's ART system compiles applications to native code when they are installed. You can also install actual native code with Android's NDK.
If you like the idea of asm.js, then you should check out Go on Android. It does the same thing - offers a restricted set of the language that runs very fast.
There's definitely a subset of apps that work very well in a browser. But you can do more, faster, with lower power consumption with native apps.
You certainly don't need to do any of that. Amazon didn't do that and they have a pretty successful line of tablets. Even their crappy phone was far better than the Firefox OS phone.
Firefox could fork AOSP, break compatibility (if they want), rename it, and never look back. If they did this, they would be far ahead of where they are right now with Firefox OS.
Still, any AOSP fork needs to track Google's version only if they want to run applications built for Google's version of Android.
The first iteration of Firefox's mobile OS didn't run any Android apps so it would be no loss if their fork of AOSP also didn't run Android apps. That's why I would suggest renaming so that people don't think they can install Android apps.
Also, currently Android has been ruled as copyright infringement from Oracle over Java APIs. It may be advisable to avoid building your own new OS on those same APIs.
It's zippy enough, especially when you look at all the different platforms it works on. It's pretty far behind iOS, but then iOS has only a few platforms to worry about. Android is probably good enough especially when you factor in power consumption.
In the end though, it's all about trade-offs. Going with an Android fork gives you a pretty solid base to build off of. It's a nice option for app developers because the tools for Android development are excellent and the OS is well understood.
If there had of been a way to install Firefox OS on an iPhone or Android phone, I would have certainly tried it out. Mozilla really needed to target power users, but it was just too hard to get hold of the hardware - both hardware availability and the stupid state of carrier contracts are to blame here.
I don't know that Mozilla's business model works if they are not bundling their software to a licensed phone, but it's a shame that the mobile platforms can't be opened up the same way desktops are.
Currently mobile hardware is in a space where the OS has to be custom built for the hardware choices of that particular phone manufacturer, unlike PCs which have a robust system of drivers you have some manner of control over as a user. Seems to be the biggest limitation.
Having web pages as native apps goes back to Web Widgets on Series 60 phones, followed by WebOS.
On the Series 60, almost everyone favoured native Symbian and J2ME apps to web widgets.
WebOS sadly failed to gain major traction.
Windows Phone and Android devices can be obtained by fairly low prices and have the advantage of native apps, Webviews besides the browser. On Windows Phone the WinRT is exposed to packaged web apps.
So although I respect their efforts, I never really understood the effort, given that they were under the same OEM constraints as Android and the reviews of the available devices weren't that great.
Mean while, Firefox isn't getting that much better and seems to be loosing marketshare.
What's the long-term plan?
Agreed, it seems like they're rapidly running out of options. It's getting a little concerning.
There is a space there for another OS that you can put on your non-iphone. I just don't think that's Mozilla's space to fill. Really, in all practicality, this is a space Microsoft needs to fill. It's almost like the world is waiting for them to step it up. Their new open source strategy is going to produce some big plays along these lines; .net in particular. Think about the native and multi-arch work being done for it.. ARM for Windows10 and .net; where is it all going you think?
I can tell you that if I could load up Windows10 on my nexus5 even if just for a test drive I certainly would.