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Mozilla goes mobileAt the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Mozilla Foundation Chairman Mitchell Baker talks about the company's plans to enter the smartphone market with Fennec, a mobile version of its Firefox browser. She also discusses how the new, open platform will encourage...
>> We have 30 or 35 years of desktop or Laptop machines or coming up to 15 years or so of the graphical worldwide web. And those form knowledge and experience and baggage about how we approach things. So one reason why having one web is important is that when we get into the mobile devices we don't have the same kinds of experience and we don't expect the same things; we don't know yet what people want to do with mobile devices, or as people find new uses for them they're surprising for us. You know mobile devices as your credit card, mobile devices for loading. These are all uses that we see today in parts of the world so because this is a new area, the mental constraints of what we can do, how we think we're going to use them are much less. And so I predict that as we explore the use cases for devices we will find new ways to use our computers and those ways will be equally important if we're sitting in an office or at home with some differently formatted machine. Because mental constraints are often the hardest to get past. And even if we as developers get past them, a lot of users don't. They think they're going to do X and if you have a wildly different metaphor, they really don't adapt to it. So an example of this is the browser and I think Mark spoke a little bit about this. Think about it for a minute-even the word browser-well what kind of metaphor is that? It's ancient but how many of us browse the web anymore? We don't browse, we create the web. We mix things, we find them, we create them, we mash them up, we live in the web. And so browsing is a bad metaphor. It's hard to get rid of, I don't know a better word, and changing it would be hard so really that metaphor should just become generic. So because that's the way that we will see the constraints, the creativity and this odd openness of expectation that has to be fulfilled on mobile devices, moved back into our entire web experience even if we're at home. So how do we get there? It's a better world for users; you have one web, you don't have to choose, your device doesn't limit you to the data or the experiences you can have. Well to get there we need an open development platform-an open web-based development platform. And of course coming from Mozilla we view Firefox as that platform. The best most effective and quickest way to get to a spot where all developers, Web 2.0 developers can develop in ways that reach people through mobile devices as well. Firefox can be, it should be and it will be that platform, not the only one. We expect to have both innovation and competition but that Firefox is a key for making that happen. Well some may say well that's convenient that puts you right at the center of things and that is true, but it's more than just convenient because this is the reason that Mozilla exists. The foundation, the corporation, the Firefox, all that exists should provide a way to touch human beings and to be the platform for which developers can reach people, and that is open and uncontrolled. No SDK's, no limiting of what you can and can't do, no controlled use of technology, open source open code, completely available. We provide a basis, if you want to change it, you're welcome to do that, if you want to build on top of it, equally welcome. So our vision for Firefox is very similar to what we've seen in the last four or five years. You know the picture that Jonathan described of closed systems, we saw something similar to that in the early 2000, 2001, 2002. Only one, Microsoft, so not fragmented but very closed and certainly through the browser not very innovative in the dark days of 2002, 2003 we've seen that the browser is a great, quick and effective platform for being able to reach people and for masses of developers to bring their innovation to people through the web. So we're aiming to do that in the mobile space as well. Where are we? In the last six to eight months we've done the basic platform work, performance, memory, Firefox now fits well on smart phone sized devices. You can see that through Nokia shipping us in a 10-product with a Mozilla based browser on it; we've released the early versions of Fennec from Brazil I believe. Fennec which is also a Firefox browser for mobile, very early stages, very rough, it's a prototype; that's because we want feedback for it. You can see Fennec, you can look at it, you can run it on these devices. Throughout 2008 you'll see Fennec being improved, lots of iteration, and you'll start to see innovations and new ideas and experiments.