Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mozilla futures

A great quote recently from Tristan Nitot, head of Mozilla Europe:

For years, the Mozilla goal was simple:
promote choice and innovation on the Internet
and the biggest lever we had to achieve this was Firefox. In 2003, there was a monopoly (which leads to lack of choice) and total lack of innovation (why would Microsoft invest in something that did not generate revenue and could threaten its business?). Making a modern, safer, easier to use, cross-platform and extensible browser made sense.

Fast forward 5 years or so. We're in a totally different place. The browser market is in much better shape than before. 2009 seems very promising with Safari 4, Chrome 1.0, IE8 and Firefox 3.1. There is absolutely no doubt that keeping on improving Firefox is the right thing to do, but in this new era, the old Mozilla goal sounds less relevant.

Tristan is right. Against all odds, Firefox has achieved their initial goal. Congratulations!

So, what's next for Mozilla and Firefox? Well, I believe they have to extend the web itself:

  • Mobile: Create a full-power browser for mobile phones, even better than Apple's iPhone browser
  • Sensors: Enable the browser to allow websites control over device hardware such as cameras, microphones, accelerometers, etc.
  • Graphics: Enhance the browser to give it native control over video, vector graphics, plus 2D and 3D rendering.
  • Security: Work to eliminate security issues from the web
  • Performance: Make javascript as fast as C. Use hardware acceleration to speed up graphics until canvas is fast enough to enable modern video games. Take advantage of multi-core machines.
  • Process: Mozilla has proved that a radically open development model works. All their development software, bugs, internal issues, team meeting notes and working designs are on the web for everyone to see and discuss publicly. That includes working very closely with standards bodies so the web doesn't dissolve into rival models. Their challenge is to ensure this approach beats the closed proprietary model. That means they need more market share!

Perhaps the last point is the most important ... Mozilla have set an example to us all by building a huge community for good around the world. Their task will be to expand it further and use it to influence the development of the web.