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Firefox appeared at a time when there was huge potential being stifled by a stagnant monopoly in the space, and people were desperate for something good. It filled a real need, and people loved it.

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.




Completely agree that they should turn their focus towards solving privacy and identity management.

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.


+1 for Persona. Previous discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10436123

Re: privacy / security, I really wish they hadn't dropped Thunderbird.


It's a shame really, but as an outsider, it wasn't clear that Persona was even given a chance to fail.


That's my impression as well. A friend and I created a pastebin as a fun weekend project this weekend (https://www.pastery.net/) and we used Persona for auth, since it's so damn convenient. The only problem is that it loads a bunch of files on every request, and my questions about lazy-loading went unanswered.

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.


Incidentally, I launched a pastebin (https://ghostbin.com/) some time ago, used Persona for authentication, and absolutely loved it.

Pastery looks awesome. It appears that you're using Pygments server-side?


Serious question for you and your parent:

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 ?


They're primarily for content ownership management.

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.)


Deletion. Modification of pastes and maintaining the same id (URL).

Though, these can be solved with tokens per post, it's tough to remember/maintain multiple tokens, doesn't work out in practice.


Preventing inundation with pastes. This is less of a problem for a small project like this compared to one of the major sites, whose server architecture is probably more robust.


That looks fantastic! I love what you've done with the UI. We do use Pygments, yep, same as you, looks like :)

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?


With Thunderbird at least, the repo is open and available.

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.



How is that relevant? Are you saying that Persona failed because they didn't get enough pull requests from other users?


I think they're saying that even if Mozilla may not decide to actively develop Persona anymore, Persona users and fans would be able to contribute to and further develop the project if the repo is "open and available."


That's not happening, unfortunately. Sometimes you need someone with weight to throw around, or with technical knowledge, or both.


I agree sometimes it takes someone with weight to throw around, but are you saying that person needs to be a Mozilla employee? Because I wouldn't agree with that.


No, it needs to be Mozilla itself.


Absolutely right. Dan Callahan's statement on why:

"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.


I think that for Persona in particular, "commercial adoption" would probably have meant "random startups deploying Persona as their customers' identity provider." The idea being that a government/nonprofit/enterprise can be convinced to adopt any old ridiculous thing if you say the right things about it, but "the market" (i.e. a critical mass of SMBs) will only adopt your product if it's giving them a higher ROI than the alternative.


Yeah I don't buy that either. Was there an ROI case made about the iPhone? I don't think so. There's no similar ROI case anyone could make for Firefox, either.


The original iPhone wasn't a platform (didn't have "apps"), remember; it had value without third party support. Persona, meanwhile, has no value apart from its adoption.

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.


I really agree on this. They should focus on a browser that respects privacy and email that respects privacy (perhaps by resuming Thunderbird development).

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.


Absolutely.

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 [1]), 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).

[1] http://toc.im/


I would also include Ricochet[1] in the list of decentralized messaging tools, which is centered around Tor hidden services.

[1] https://ricochet.im


Also, Mozilla already had some IM support (XMPP, twitter, and yahoo, I think) in Thunderbird / Instantbird. IRC too, but that's a different sort of messaging.


They're trying something with Firefox Hello. Unfortunately, short of Google open sourcing Hangouts and making it a truly open protocol, I don't see a change happening in the IM space any time soon =/


I think that's a little overly pessimistic. Look how quickly Slack went from non-existent to huge in the messaging space.


Isn't Slack just another proprietary platform? They may leverage some open protocols, but I don't see how Slack decentralizes messaging. Am I missing something?


It doesn't, the point is there's still room for this space to be disrupted.


Imagine a browser that has a privacy mode using tor ? Privacy in browser nowadays is privacy from your wife or kids, not privacy from anything on the server side.

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 )


Nonsense. Tor Browser is actually based on Mozilla Firefox and it has been alive for long. Nobody would be so mad to call the web browser vendor a terrorist organization.


Clearly you don't follow the UK news, the UK govt. have been toying with banning Tor (encryption in general) for a couple of years.

Here is a recent article about it http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/11/tor-should...


If they targeted Mozilla all hell would break loose. Mozilla is no Napster! They would have one heck of a fight on their hands. I don't believe they would win.


> I really agree on this. They should focus on a browser that respects privacy and email that respects privacy

I'd love to see it happen, but who would the money come from?


The problem is solving privacy and identity management in the mobile space is hard given how vertically integrated both the iOS and Android eco-systems by Apple and Google respectively. Firefox (and Opera) had failed to make any headway into Android in the years prior.


To be fair , the market niche for a phone that doesn't try to imprison you or ransom you to the highest bidder, hasn't yet been served.

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.


The stock Android on my Nexus 6 does a pretty good job actually. In a sense FirefoxOS is more limited than Android. You can't run an alternative browser on it for example.

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.


Android seems to be getting better with each new release from a security & privacy perspective, but still has a long ways to go. As a long time rose-tinted-glasses-wearing FOSS fan and android user, i have to say that iOS is still far ahead of Android in terms of security and privacy. Furthermore Apple seems to keep innovating in that regard.

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.


The market niche is/was nicely being served by Jolla. (At least outside US. But as mentioned they are bankrupt atm. And the phone is old - still nice imho)


Outside of hacker news, I haven't heard of Firefox OS even once. They had no marketing to speak of, and you have to complete HARD on marketing to get into that market.

"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).


Just as a counterpoint, I regularly saw Firefox os+phone ads on giant billboards in central Warsaw.

If there was to be any market interest, I thought their targeting and marketing efforts like this were pretty spot-on.


Oh yeah, I've read about them targeting some specific countries (Spain, Brazil, Poland, etc). So it might be that the parent commentator lives elsewhere and didn't get targeted :)


Telefónica, the major carrier in Spain, sold some Firefox OS phones years ago under the promise that there would be a version of WhatsApp for Firefox OS soon. That never happened. They eventually stopped selling them.

(Not implying there is any correlation between those two last facts.)


There is Whatsapp client Loqui IM.


They were targeting developing countries like Central Eu, South Am, Asia, rather than North Am. The market there is huge.

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.


I live in Spain, but never saw someone using a Firefox OS phone there.



>"If you build it they will come"

The feedback I received from the people that tested the platform development wise was that they had not built it yet.


They have done a lot of marketing with their partner Orange in Africa. They promoted 40$ phones. It didn't get much traction because users in Africa already had good viable Android phones for that price tag.


The last time I checked (about a year ago), their web site said that the project is not ready for public. I bought a firefoxos device in October 2014 which came with FirefoxOS 1.3, and got to agree that it wasn't ready for public.

So that explains the lack of marketing.


They didn't seem to make any effort to get it into the hands of people who might actually talk about it either. I follow a ton of hardware reviewer types and never once saw Firefox OS phones come up. I know literally one person who bought one out of curiosity.


Not to mention that FirefoxOS wasn't even properly built. I have yet to see (and given today's news, probably will never see) a review of FirefoxOS where the reviewer doesn't mention the OS crashing multiple times.


I used one as my primary device for 2 years. It worked fine. All I needed was voice, sms, a browser, mail reader and a modem (wifi tethering). I had bought a dev device for $75.

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.


My Alcatel with FxOS 2 does not crash at all.


Also, I wonder how the public would react by hearing "Firefox""OS". The browser running the computer, would the idea inspired or confused them ? ChromeOS is from Google, they're known to make smartphones and Android so it's less strange to jump the shark. But Mozilla ...


According to IDC the Worldwide Smartphone Market in 2015:

  Android       ...  81.2%
  iOS           ...  15.8%
  Windows Phone ...   2.2%
  Others        ...   0.8%
Worldwide Smartphone Forecast by OS for 2019:

  Android       ...  82.6%
  iOS           ...  14.1%
  Windows Phone ...   2.3%
  Others        ...   0.9%
Source: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS40664915

@downvoter: it's a forcast by the well known IDC, also the current market share (2015) is interesting on its own


Same 'forecasters' that had WP over 20% in 2015, lol.

http://cdn.geekwire.com/wp-content/uploads/idc21.jpg


It's maybe at only 5% in LatAm and that's where I know it's been having relative success.


It's 10 to 13% in European countries like France, GB, Italy and Germany.


Where did you get that number from?


random()


It is up in the double digits in India.


When you know nothing about future trends the current state is the best estimate. This explains both predictions.


Will Windows Phone/ Windows Mobile be around 2019, as a die-hard WP user, I hope so. I just do not like those icon based OSes.


I suspect the Universal Windows Platform will have a significant impact. Especially the ability to dock your phone with an external display/keyboard/mouse. For a large portion of the market it displaces the need for a second computing device. Microsoft is much further along on this front than both Android and iOS.


I've been able to (and have done so) plug my android phone into a usb hub with mouse and keyboard and into a 1080p screen for quite a few years now.

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.


>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.

But that is going to soon change as MS is working with Intel to launch Intel powered phones (x86). [1]

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.

[1] http://news.softpedia.com/news/microsoft-launching-intel-pow...


I like the docking concept, but you really can't trust input devices you don't own.


Same applies to FxOS, not the whole stack was open.

Plus people keep forgetting that there aren't any open options for the radio OS.


It's not just the raw capabilities that are important. This is something Apple has understood for a long time. Microsoft is figuring it out.


The Motorola Atrix had an optional attachment that turned it into a "webtop" (basically a laptop case that used your phone as the CPU): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_Atrix_4G


Microsoft continues to shoot itself in the foot here. Nearly two years ago at BUILD they announced universal apps for Xbox One. A year later the new term, Universal Windows Platform (UWP), was being used and another promise of opening up Xbox to app developers. Xbox has yet to really open up for app devs.

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?


> 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.


> Especially the ability to dock your phone with an external display/keyboard/mouse. For a large portion of the market it displaces the need for a second computing device. Microsoft is much further along on this front than both Android and iOS.

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?


Monitors aren't obsoleted nearly as quickly as computer hardware and most consumers have a TV. You can take peripherals you already own and make a 1-plug docking station without significant cost. The lynchpin is user-experience and Microsoft is chasing it directly. Android is just trying to be everything for everyone. The docking stations were pimped by the OEMs without support from the ecosystem. I suspect Microsoft is more aggressively preparing for the death of the laptop/desktop. If only to save themselves from the Innovator's dilemma.


> Monitors aren't obsoleted nearly as quickly as computer hardware and most consumers have a TV.

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.


I may have misunderstood the ethos of your original comment. Physical docking is likely transient. My comments are directed more towards 2019 and "universal" applications. I took docking to mean: The single action process by which you connect a complete set peripherals to your phone/tablet.


I think it's supposed to be cheaper to own one powerful device + screen and keyboard, than having to buy two separate powerful device.


Windows Phone, if it survives, will eventually become very much like those icon based OSes.


The UI can be changed on Android and there are a lot of launchers which has a windows phone style:

https://play.google.com/store/search?q=windows+launcher&c=ap...


Bizarre that this opinion got downvoted, but I agree. It would be nice to have a thriving ecosystem of mobile OS's. I'm a WP user also and will be going Android for my next go round, maybe iOS after that. Would have been nice to try Firefox OS after that.


So install an Android launcher that doesn't use icons. They are available.


What is it that makes you a die-hard WP user? As someone who works for a company with mobile applications, we've had a hard time seeing the value in this platform and I'd like to change that.


As an app developer, the lack of users makes WP uninteresting. But it has a slick, original interface and visual style, that has manage very smooth animation on even slow hardware, so it should be no wonder that there are people who fall in love with it.


> 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.

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.


The clearest and simplest thing they could do is implement ad blocking in an ethical manner. All the other players have commercial agendas either for or against advertising. Mozilla is really the only player that can come to the table with clean hands and implement a solution that is fair to all sides.


Why would the user care about "ethical" manner (especially since it still allows ads) over crude, remove all ads, manner?


Are you asking why do people care about ethics? That's a philosophical question almost. But at some point people do. We agree to laws that people shouldn't murder each other, even if you find it might be manifestly in your interests to knock someone off. 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.


>Are you asking why do people care about ethics?

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.


> Between "ethical ad-removal: keeps some ads" and "non-ethical: it removes all of them

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 care.

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.

I'll pass.


Or maybe instead they could just make completely new, unique product. Something like Iphone was in its first release.

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.


They shouldn't be off doing their own thing in the "not Google / Apple / Microsoft" phone scene. Canonical, the now dieing Jolla, and Mozilla were all doing their own thing and years later Ubuntu Touch is still an unfinished mess with no forseeable legit launch worth mentioning (3rd parties have sold Ubuntu Touch phones, and the UX was awful), Jolla is bankrupt, and Mozilla just gave up.

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.


Once again, average user when first in touch with Plasma Phone will say "Oh, is this new Android?". All of them unique mobile OS's look the same at first glance. And first glance is most important. Windows Phone did amazing job in that, to bad they screwed almost everything else.

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.


Its not really about attracting users though, its about getting phones in stores that users are buying. The market of users that shop for a device, looking for specs and features, is a tiny fraction of the market of phone users, the vast majority of which are regularly ripped off by carriers to buy underpowered overpriced iphones or Android handsets.

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.


It's most definitely about attracting users. When we started OnePlus we specifically set out to ignore stores and carriers and instead focus on making a product that people would love and put it in a price range that made it accessible to everyone. If we had made the same product but instead approached stores and carriers to sell it they would have ignored us. If we were lucky they might have done a deal with us that would have been shitty for us and good for them.

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.


But OnePlus still only sells at most a few million units a year - since Oxygen OS is just an Android fork, its still Android, and you don't have the problem of marketshare adoption to attract app developers that any of the non-Android based mobile OSes would have. And thats why I said Plasma Mobile is most interesting, since its not for commercial purposes where success is measured in adoption. The Nexus phones and other devices that are rarely commercially available in stores sell fractions of the units that generic LG and Samsung phones on those shelves do. You can make a business selling a good Android phone out there, but for a mobile OS that needs a good chunk of market share to stay viable, limiting yourself to those seeking you out puts you at an insurmountable disadvantage to getting a foothold large enough to attract developers.


> The market of users that shop for a device, looking for specs and features, is a tiny fraction of the market of phone users, the vast majority of which are regularly ripped off by carriers to buy underpowered overpriced iphones or Android handsets.

This might be so in US, but in most European countries we buy our phones ourselves with pre-paid options.


FirefoxOS was a perfect fit for me on the paper but I never got how to buy one here in France. I'm stucked with Android and I don't like it.


Many Leclerc stores sold ZTE Open C phones in France. You can also use the ZTE online store: they're now at 50 euros, not 80 euros + discount. See http://www.ztefrance.com/smartphones/open-c/.


ZTE was selling their ZTE Open C which came with FirefoxOS 1.3 on ebay.co.uk, that's where I bought it from. I lived in the UK at the moment but I believe they were shipping it worldwide.

Checked the ebay listings again, there are a few sellers from Australia, the USA but seems like the ZTE listing is gone.


Don't buy the ZTE Open, it was a terrible phone


I had it. As far as I remember, it was a reasonable phone, especially for the price tag. The hardware was working ok and most of the issues were OS-related. The USB socket broke down after a bit more than half a year, however, I dropped the phone quite a few times, so couldn't blame the manufacturer.


The problem I had with it was when it was in my pocket for a couple hours, I would pull it out and it would be off. I'd have to pop the cover and pull the battery to get it to boot back up. If it wasn't for that, it wouldn't have been totally terrible.


I dunno. From what i am seeing, Apple and Google are busy rearranging UI deck chairs.

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.
No. There should be more than a billion smartphones/tablets sold, what do you think is the ratio of those who can do what you told to those who have no idea? And what is the ratio of those who can willing to do it instead of just using the app?

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.


How big is the ratio of people using adblockers/YouTube downloader add-ons etc vs. those capable of writing them?


Yeah right, I was excited by the idea that we might be able to download all kinds of cool UI's for our phones.

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.


Even if they themselves do not know, they know where to find someone that knows. I am pretty much the go to tech support of family and friends, for example.


All good points.

"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.


Privacy is a poor angle to pursue. It's old, and so we know, as you said, that people don't care.

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.


I'm pretty sure people do still care about privacy. It just might not be readily obvious how to profit from such people.


It's obvious: you sell them the tools that enhance their privacy with solid reviews and advertisements in right places. If people don't buy, they either didn't care enough about privacy or were poor. There's security companies selling hardened phone OS's, browsers, desktops... you name it. Most individuals or businesses, even with the money, just don't buy them or even research them much.


all of these take terrible trade offs. people want a good product AND privacy AND security. Not fucking OR.

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.


"people want a good product AND privacy AND security. Not fucking OR."

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.


It's obvious: you sell them the tools that enhance their privacy with solid reviews and advertisements in right places. If people don't buy, they either didn't care enough about privacy or were poor.

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.


Re privacy-aware

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.


I bet they just don't deliver on their promise or do so at the expense of some fundamental use case.

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.


Many server appliances or hardened distros did exactly what their counterparts could but with much less risk. Either went nowhere or made small amounts of money. Meanwhile, insecure garbage and spyware prevails at multi-billion dollar amounts. I think people have made their preferences clear in practice even if in theory they want it more private.


And some people are "pretty sure" the hyper advanced alien Xenu used hydrogen bombs to detonate all volcanoes on earth simultaneously and capture everyone's thetans. Unless you have any evidence, you're just going to have to resign yourself to the idea that most people won't believe you.


Their income source is the advertising industry that works via surveillance of their users. I mean, their money comes mainly from search traffic but it's something to factor in when considering them being a private browser.


Bring back Brendan Eich ?


Phoenix appeared at a time when web browsers were bloated, and it was refreshing to have a minimalist app that simply browsed the web. It wasn't that potential was being stifled; other browsers had too many features. It was that we could download a small binary on dial-up, that opened up quickly and just did what we needed without any fluff.

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.


Actually you can, just about. I've got b2gdroid[0] installed on my Android phone, which gives you the Gaia experience as your home screen, and access to the built-in applications as well as being a launcher for your Android apps.

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.

[0]: https://github.com/fabricedesre/b2gdroid


Good point, maybe a hack that would be runnable from android to override it on the phone would have done the trick


Hear, hear. Instead of pushing for an alternative against data vampires like Google, they push their own weird cloud services ("Firefox Sync") and... videochat? Didn't they suddenly have some weird, pop-up-by-default videochat thing in one of their recent releases?

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.


"Hello" (videochat) is pretty neat, imho. You can share tabs, video/voice and chat. It's great for training users. All you have to do is send an URL, and it works in Chrome too.

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.


But when they tried to pioneer privacy respecting ads in the new tab window, they were repeatedly and roundly criticised here, too...


That's not the kind of innovation that users want, nor is it the kind that they truly benefit from.

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 wanted to see what they would promote — and still was disappointed, as there was no option to show _only_ the promoted links (I prefer to access history by typing a part of the site name into the address bar).

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.


Users want to have their cake and eat it too. Following the users wishes when they're self-destructive is bad, and you should feel bad.

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.


Call the desire to rid the web of ads "destructive" if you please, but don't call those wishes "self-destructive" from the user's perspective. It is completely within the user's prerogative to filter whatever content they wish to filter before it hits their eyeballs. Why should anyone feel bad about choosing what they want to look at it?

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 [1]), 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.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_International


It's self-destructive because users who don't block ads are keeping sites alive for the users that do block them. If all the users block the ads, the site will need to scramble for a new income model, and for some the new model might not work out.

Seems like a perfect example of self-destructive/tragedy-of-the-commons behavior to me.


This is a perfect example of a changing market driving out incumbents that have been unable to adapt. The internet is probably better off without them.


There are plenty of websites which exist that have two options for revenue, either take ads, or make people pay to view your content. Some websites are purely driven by the users' content, and there isn't a real revenue model, so that's what your left with, either the users pay, or someone else does. 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. 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.


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.


Sure.

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.


As a user I really don't care about ads. Unless, of course, they are those annoying hover ads or auto-playing video ads or they slow down the browser.


So far, informally, every person I've seen write something like this works in marketing, works for a company that makes revenue from advertising, or is somehow monetarily incentivized to have a web where "users" widely agree to view ads. Obviously, there's no causation (perhaps those people naturally gravitate towards fruitful work that doesn't bother them), but it seems to be a pretty reliable (read: so far 100%) correlation.

Are you the combo breaker?


No, I don't do any of that stuff. So I guess I'm 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?


Well then, I'll have to adjust my assumptions. Thanks.


"Pioneer"? Really? Is the bar so low now that embedding ads into the browser is considered innovative?


IIRC Opera had it years ago. Maybe even before there was Firefox.


they had ads but only in the free version, if you bought opera there were no ads.


Well… of sorts. The default set on Speed Dial were (and are) sold, which you can easily construe as adverts.


That's not what they did. They embedded targeted ads that respected your privacy, by having all targeting done client side and not sending information about you back to the server.

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.


Showing privacy-respecting ads in the browser does nothing to improve the state of the advertising on the Web itself.


I'm not saying they didn't make mistakes in the way they did this. If they had introduced a MozAdNetwork for websites that respects your privacy, they would not have faced that backlash in all likelihood.


How is letting someone else pay them to waste my time beyond criticism?


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