Mozilla's 3 bold bets to keep the Web open

Google's latest agreement with Mozilla will ironically fund three new areas of competition between Google and Mozilla

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BrowserID aims to become the open alternative to Facebook Connect and the Google username on Google's far-reaching Web properties. With BrowserID, Mozilla has built a user-centric identity system that works in all modern browsers, and it will make the protocol available for other browser vendors to use. Ascher explains: "For Mozilla devs, this is a bit shocking, as we're not starting by putting a feature in Firefox first (although we sure hope that Firefox will implement BrowserID before the others!). While I love Firefox, this makes me happy, because in my mind, Mozilla is about making the Internet work better for everyone, not just Firefox users, and in this case being browser-neutral is the right strategic play."

The notion of making the Web better for everyone, not just Firefox users, is one I've not picked up on until now. But I completely agree with Ascher. Few can argue that even Internet Explorer users are benefiting from Firefox's efforts and Microsoft's response to it.

If Mozilla is successful with BrowserID, which is certainly possible as developers increasingly grow weary of their reliance on Facebook or Google, users will get back control over their identity and information without having to sacrifice a personalized Web experience.

Initiative 3: Apps -- if you can't beat them, join them

Finally, Mozilla is addressing the "app-ifcation" of the Web, not by fighting the trend it as may seem reasonable for a browser vendor, but by guiding how these apps are built, found, paid for, and installed.

Mozilla's Apps initiative aims to make Web technologies the basis of building applications that can run across devices. Mozilla also wants to introduce a standard for application purchasing and installation that would allow users to consume applications from multiple app stores without restrictions. This initiative undoubtedly goes after the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace. It would be interesting if Mozilla were to partner with Microsoft on this initiative as Microsoft builds out its app store.

Success isn't guaranteed, but Mozilla knows about tough fights

Whether Mozilla can execute all three initiatives while maintaining its efforts in the still-important browser war is an open question. But even if just one of these three initiatives are successful, we'll all be better off.

Although Mozilla will face a lot of resistance on this front from the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple, fighting an uphill battle isn't new territory for Mozilla. Let's cheer it on.

I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.

This article, "Mozilla's 3 bold bets to keep the Web open," was originally published at Read more of Savio Rodrigues's Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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