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Pocket’s 30M Users Are Great for Publishers (bloomberg.com)
110 points by cpeterso on Aug 12, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 44 comments

> Pocket is also experimenting with personalizing recommendations for certain users based partly on each person’s Firefox browsing history.

Why does an open-source web browser have a proprietary cloud synchronization service installed by default?

EDIT: I know that Pocket is owned by Mozilla. It doesn't change anything.

Mozilla actually owns pocket now; they seem to believe that giving people recommendations from around the web is the best way to combat walled gardens who want all your content going through them. This article is pretty revealing: https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2017/02/27/mozilla-acquires-po...

I still don't think it should be proprietary, and I don't use it, so

  extensions.pocket.enabled = false
is my friend.

I wish that where off by default, it actually makes me feel uncomfortable installing firefox on my laptop at work even though it really is better than chrome when you want to read docs and don't have a ton of free memory.

So, what do you use? Chrome is more comfortable?

Yes, chrome doesn't dump news articles on my screen every time I open a new tab.

I use firefox anyway, it just makes me uncomfortable.

Chrome on Android does. Although you can now hide it since a few weeks ago.

This is weird to me; I never open a new tab in a manner that exposes me to that... it's always typing into the URL bar and then hitting alt+enter, or middle-clicking a link. (Plus session restore)

you can easily customize that

All browsing history is kept on your device and recommendations are calculated on your device. The only cloud synchronization is the recommendation engine - no different to the existing synchronizations like the update checker or the phishing sites list.

They phone home with the recommendations which leaks info about your browsing history.

Source? That's contrary to everything I've seen.

>When you use Firefox, Mozilla by default collects technical and interaction data. You can read about the data we collect and how you can choose what you share in the Firefox Privacy Notice.

>If your Firefox is configured to share this technical and interaction data with Mozilla, when Recommendations from Pocket are displayed on your new tab, we collect information about how many times they appear and whether or not you interact with them.

>This reports all the Pocket recommended articles (a list of ids) when the user opens a newtab.



The sentence following your second quote is:

>However, this information is not associated with any of the other technical and interaction information about you or your copy of Firefox.

Are you concerned about collection of anonymized metrics, or do you have some reason to believe that the data collected is not anonymized?

I'm using an open source browser because I don't trust third parties; what if they were served a NSL or similar?

Either way the common claim that it's purely local is certainly not true.

Pocket is owned by Mozilla.

Pocket is proprietary and owned by Mozilla.

The client side is fully open sourced and to my knowledge there is work ongoing to opensource the server too.

Mozilla owns pocket.

Yeah, it's Mozilla's proprietary cloud synchronization service.

Cloud Sync is not proprietary, you can run your own with all functionality that Mozilla's provides, the code is on Github.

This is about Pocket, which is what krn referred to as "a proprietary cloud synchronization service". Mozilla has been promising to make Pocket open source since it acquired it over 1.5 years ago, but haven't done it yet.

There is plenty of client source code available on github, the remaining parts are the server which understandably might pose some issues if it contains either patents or third party proprietary code.

Yeah, the clients are open source, and they're interfacing with the proprietary cloud service. Just like krn said.

Atleast part of the cloud service is open source (mozilla's side) and they are still planning to open source them. Until evidence of the contrary surfaces I do believe Mozilla when they say that.

A trustworthy open source company doesn't bundle its product with a service its users have no control over.

Not having read the article, I’ll just chime in and say anecdotally that since I use Firefox on my iPhone I’ve clicked on numerous Pocket articles suggested on the new tab screen. Even though they only show two suggestions at a time, they tend to be really interesting reads and fit in well with my interests. Clearly they have a good algorithm.

Pocket is one of my most used apps on my iPhone. It's fantastic, simple, and best of all truly an app I believe the more time I put into it, the better I feel about how I've used my time, which I can't say for a lot of the social media and game apps that are out there today.

> Pocket is, however, sending almost 75 percent more traffic to Parse.ly’s publisher network than it was at the start of 2018.

That's meaningless without knowing what percentage of traffic Pocket represents to Parse.ly. Did it go from (for example) 5% to 8.75%? Or 0.1% to 0.175%?

I recently moved from Pocket to Instapaper because of the way Pocket seems to be adding all these things to get in your way.

I dislike Instapaper too because of the whole GDPR thing.

I should engineer a solution I like, but could do with some help generating text from the articles. What is the best way of doing that? Something like Mozilla Fathom?

https://github.com/mozilla/readability (that powers Firefox's reading mode)




For a complete solution, you can also look at Wallabag, which can be self-hosted.

Thanks, I threw together a little nodejs+express API using Readability and wow its very powerful

Odd that people have privacy issues with Pocket but not embedding a search engine in the awesome bar. At the end of the day Mozilla has to pay the bills and Pocket looks like an unoffensive way to do so.

I do. I removed all the integrated search engines from FF.

You are right, Mozilla needs to pay the bills. I accept that and don't hold a grudge. But they are not getting anything from me. I use FF to get away from the internet business model.

Pocket is a nice idea, but probably a poor substitute for Search Engine money.

If it worked, Mozilla would publish real numbers. (The way Mozilla works nowadays, they would probably publish a blog post with an overly excited tone describing how Pocket saves the internet, destroys fake news and even averts climate change)

Just like they don't publish real data anymore for Firefox absolute user numbers, which have gone downhill in recent years.

The 75% number is meaningless without revenue numbers and an explanation what this 75% even pertains to. There shuold be around 100 Million Quantum users who have Pocket in their new-tab section.

Finding a long-term strategy will be a challenge for Mozilla. Since the browser is losing more and more users, if they don't invent themselves completely new there will be no way to keep the revenue stable.

It indeed seems like Mozilla does not publish user stats for Firefox, though detailed statistics for AMO are still available.


When you look at the major Addons, usage is consistently going down.

Mozilla pulled the plug for the user raw data after this blog post:


I see why Mozilla want to do this sort of thing, and I also understand why lots of people like it.

But I do wish Mozilla would make a version of Firefox available for people that just want a fully-FOSS browser.

The efforts of various GNU+Linux distributions to do this (Icecat, Abrowser) are fantastic, but ultimately it’s too difficult for me to judge how quickly they can act on security issues to feel comfortable using them.

I’d have no problem sending telemetry data back if I could get a browser binary with Widevine DRM, Pocket etc. completely removed.

I’d also be more inclined to send Mozilla cold hard cash.

I recently switched from Pocket to Instapaper. Instapaper is more stable without a doubt. When I used the pocket app on my phone, MULTIPLE PHONES/TABLETS (at least 5), I would get stuck in home screen loops that I was unable to exit out of without rebooting. I tried contacting their support but they were not effective. When it works, it was my favorite app. I got top %5 reader awards from them 3 years in a row.

I would have gladly paid for a premium edition but their lack of support, victim blaming, and passive aggressive responses to features I suggested left me with a bad taste in my mouth. So far, Instapaper is everything I was hoping pocket to be. The text to speech feature actually works, it's stable, and the interface is much cleaner and easier to use.

I don't usually write yelp tier reviews like this on HN but I figured I would express myself just in case someone has the same sentiment as me (they should immediately switch to Instapaper).

It is night and day in terms of quality.

If, like Instapaper, Pocket strips out publisher ads and gives you a pleasant reading experience, why would publishers pay a fee for Pocket to promote articles?

If Pocket doesn’t strip publisher ads and give you a pleasant reading experience, why use Pocket?

I live on Pocket and absolutely love the service.

Ok. How do you growth hack pocket now?

pocket is long dead

I assume I am is considered a user.. but I quite frankly haven't used it 2 years. That 30 million is probably grossely exaggerated.

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