File Under: Browsers

The Battle for Choice on the Web Isn’t Over

A thoughtful essay by Stuart Turton at PC Pro argues that Mozilla, having already completed the shake-up in the browser world it set out to achieve, needs a new direction:

Like the catalyst in a science experiment, I’m beginning to wonder if Firefox’s greatest contribution to browsers is not its continued existence, but that it existed at all. Put another way: Mozilla has won all its battles, is it time the company picked a new war?

Turton goes on the suggest that Mozilla apply the Firefox model to develop a desktop office suite to rival MS Office, but I’m not convinced that’s a good idea. How many of you use Thunderbird instead of Gmail or Yahoo Mail?

Since we’re playing armchair quarterback here, I’d argue that Mozilla hasn’t come close to winning all its battles. There’s still a great deal of work to be done in the “choice” department on the web: the choice of open web technologies or proprietary technologies for video, audio and games; the choice of where to store your personal data on the web (and how the browser handles that decision); the choice of whether you get your apps from a store run by a corporation, or through an open, cross-browser platform with no Central Scrutinizer.

In other words, the “choice is good” fight isn’t over, it’s just about different stuff now. If Mozilla is going to change direction about how it promotes its philosophy, these are the places to concentrate. And it seems to me like the company is already doing so.

Of course, these issues are of little importance to the general public, many of whom are mostly concerned that pages load quickly, and that YouTube, Facebook and Gmail deliver the goods day in and day out. For all the browser vendors, that’s an ongoing competition with no finish line.

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