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Good luck with the new mobile strategy, Mozilla

Gregg Keizer | May 29, 2015
Analysts can't see a way for Firefox OS to find any kind of meaningful success in mobile.

Neither Gold nor Reith thought that privacy, a major part of Mozilla's overall philosophy and a keystone of its mobile play, would be enough to separate Firefox OS from its rivals. "Smartphone users in developing countries don't have the luxury of focusing on privacy," said Reith.

Although Beard characterized Mozilla's smartphone strategy as necessary to forward its "Open Web" ideology, there are also pragmatic reasons for pushing hard on mobile.

Mozilla makes nearly all its revenue -- $314 million in 2013, the last year for which financials are available -- from deals with search providers in return for making them the default in the Firefox browser. But with a rapidly declining share of the desktop browser market -- in April, Firefox accounted for 11.7% globally, down almost a third in the 12 months prior -- Mozilla has been looking for new revenue generators.

Along those lines, Mozilla has launched an in-browser advertising project that will present all Firefox users with small ads based on their browsing history.

Beard said that Mozilla would "aggressively" invest in Firefox OS, but in the same memo cautioned that the organization would not compromise on its principles. "We will say 'no' to opportunities, even if they make good business sense, if they do not further our mission," said Beard.

Reith didn't think Mozilla had that liberty. "I see Mozilla's decline as inevitable," he said.

 

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