Mozilla changed the Internet once. Will lightning strike twice for the Firefox developer?
That's what the company hopes will happen at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona next week when it unveils the Mozilla Web Apps platform, a tripartite approach to app building that will level the playing field for building apps, the company said in a statement today.
Although Mozilla hasn't explicitly said so yet, it's expected that the Marketplace will also provide neutral territory for its upcoming mobile operating system, currently called Boot to Gecko, to sell and distribute apps. Apps written for the Mozilla Marketplace will only have to be bought once, after which Mozilla says they'll be usable on any HTML5-enabled device. Boot to Gecko is scheduled to get its first major public airing at the Barcelona conference, too.
Mozilla is dangling a potentially big financial carrot for developers with its Web Apps platform: cost savings. The company is hoping that the combination of open standards for development and a "write once, deploy everywhere" approach will entice developers. It's a great idea, but it's way behind the competition from Google and Apple--by years.
The second part of the Mozilla Web Apps platform will be a raft of recent and new Mozilla-proposed APIs that will be submitted to W3C for standardization. Although CNET has not yet confirmed this, it's most likely to be Mozilla's WebAPI project to give browser apps stronger hooks into device services, such as your contact list. As my colleague Stephen Shankland noted last week, Mozilla has agreed to merge WebAPI with the W3C-approved Device API project, which will strengthen the chances of WebAPI project surviving the Wild West mobile market.
That is no guarantee that they'll be adopted, though. Just because a codec or API is open, like WebM, is no guarantee that it'll quickly become popularized.
The third component of for Web Apps platform is the one we know the least about: BrowserID. Again, we don't have confirmation that this is specifically the "new identity system" that Mozilla mentions in its statement, but it fits with what we know about the company's recent projects.
If that sounds to you like Mozilla plans to go toe-to-toe with Google and Facebook login options, you're probably not far off the mark. Knowing as little as we do, it seems like Mozilla's ability to enact this part of its Web Apps plan will depend mainly on how often it's in situations where its login is the most logical one. This could be driven by whichever carriers or devices partner up with Mozilla, and the first of those announcements won't come until Barcelona.