Mozilla effectively kills low-cost Firefox OS initiative

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Mozilla Launches Content Blocker For Safari On iOS 9.

Mozilla revealed today that it will shutter its ambitious Firefox OS smartphone initiative, during an annoucement at its “Mozlando” developer event in Orlando, Florida. Here is a bit of a surprise announcement: Firefox-maker Mozilla today announced the launch of Focus by Firefox, a content blocker for Safari on iOS 9 that’s based on the Disconnect blocklist. The web standards-compliant platform, designed to enable OEMs to manufacture cheap handsets for developing markets, never picked up steam in an Android-saturated marketplace. Focus lets you block categories of trackers such as those used for ads, analytics, and social media, and also promises to increase performance on mobile devices by blocking Web fonts.

First introduced to the development community in July 2011, and publicly released in February 2013, the platform managed to attract several major manufacturers to participate — including LG, ZTE, Alcatel, and Huawei — but never the sort of app ecosystem nor fanbase that would have made their continued investment worthwhile. Mozilla said Focus, which is based in part on Disconnect’s open source blacklist, is more transparent than many other content blockers, which are sometimes shady about the standards used to determine what gets blocked. All told, Firefox OS will have powered less than two dozen commercial handsets (while also having been ported to a number of others) along with a handful of tablets, small computers, and a television set. Some other trackers, for instance, offer no way for blocked content providers to improve and get off the naughty list, and sometimes even remove companies from a list in exchange for payment. “We believe content blockers need to be transparent with publishers and other content providers about how lists are created and maintained, rather than placing certain content in a permanent penalty box,” Mozilla’s Chief Legal and Business Officer, Denelle Dixon-Thayer, wrote in a blog post.”We want this product to encourage a discussion about users and content providers, instead of monetizing users’ mistrust and pulling value out of the Web ecosystem.” “This was not our choice—Apple has chosen to make content blocking unavailable to third-party browsers on iOS,” Vice President of Firefox Product Nick Nguyen wrote in a separate blog post. “We are exploring how we can provide this feature on Firefox for iOS and will deliver it as soon as it’s possible.” Apple somewhat controversially added support for ad-blocking extensions on Safari in iOS 9. Nobody loves online ads and getting tracked and profiled online, but it’s still how most online publishers monetize the “free” content you read.

Now Mozilla has provided us with a full statement from Ari Jaaksi, Mozilla’s SVP of Connected Devices. “We are proud of the benefits Firefox OS added to the Web platform and will continue to experiment with the user experience across connected devices. One ad-blocking app maker even pulled his popular app. “Ad blockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit,” Marco Arment said in September. Originally created within Netscape as an open source version of its web browser software, Mozilla was eventually spun off under the auspecies of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.

The browser, Firefox, was once the most popular non-bundled client for accessing the world wide web, before being unseated by Google Chrome in late 2011.

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