Mozilla's Weave: (Too far) Ahead of its time

Mozilla Labs' Weave project does an admirable job of synchronizing the Firefox experience across one's computers, but this may not be solving the right problem.

Mozilla just released Weave Sync 0.4.0, but the reality is that it will take a long time before we need a 1.0 of Weave. Weave Sync coordinates your Firefox bookmarks, browser history, saved passwords, and tabs across your various Firefox installations: desktop, laptop, Netbook, and mobile.

The problem with this vision is that today it's largely unnecessary. For a variety of reasons (some very good, some not so good), Mozilla's mobile Firefox--codenamed "Fennec"--runs on Windows Mobile (version 6 and up) devices...and that's it.

While some new moves from Google may see Fennec port its way to the Android platform, this is a drop in the global browsing bucket, and doesn't even address the fact that there are other mobile browsers with much more momentum, as ReadWriteWeb notes.

Compounding this problem, it's unclear that most people want to sync between different computing devices. More and more people have gravitated to laptops or other mobile computing devices, using these as their primary computing device, rather than as an adjunct, under-powered alternative when away from the desktop.

Personally, I can even remember the last time that I thought about using a desktop computer.

Yes, I have four Macs sitting around the house, but each one is tied to a different family member. I don't really want my son's Webkinz bookmark on my Firefox browser any more than my wife wants to look past my NewsNow Arsenal news feed.

In short, Weave seems to be solving a difficult, but not important, problem. At least, not as currently envisaged.

I'd find Weave far more compelling if it acted as a Web service that let me take my full Firefox experience with me to devices that I don't own. For example, I occasionally find myself using the desktop computers in a hotel lobby, and would love a secure way to log in, claim that browsing experience as my own, and have all traces of myself obliterated for the next patron.

That would be a useful way to "Weave" together my different Firefox sessions: between computers I own and don't own, rather than just between computers I own.

How about it, Mozilla?


Follow me on Twitter @mjasay,.

About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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