Mozilla

The “App Model” and the Web

August 9th, 2011

Mozilla’s mission is to bring openness, interoperability and user sovereignty to Internet life.  We should do this in the apps world.   We should embrace some aspects of the current app model as a complement to the browser model.   We should also provide an alternative to aspects of the current app model that aren’t so open to interoperability and user sovereignty.

There’s no reason why “apps” can’t incorporate the characteristics that are important about the web.  They don’t today because Apple didn’t build them that way.  There’s no reason Apple should; Apple has a different view of the world.  But we can.  In fact, Mozilla is one of the very few organizations that can do this.  We have reach, scope, and we are part of the infrastructure of the Internet already.  Only a few organizations in the world have this position.  And Mozilla is unique among them.  We are organized as a non-profit precisely so canmake  user sovereignty and interoperability central.

What’s Important About “the Web?”

What are some of the things about “the web” that we want to see alive and well in an open web apps model?  Here’s a starting list of characteristics:

  • “plug and play”  — interoperable at many levels
  • direct access between consumer  and developer
  • innovation without permission
  • easy to go from consumption to creation
  • heterogeneous — works on multiple devices, operating systems, platforms, data types, languages, technologies, browsers, clients, etc.
  • linkable
  • decentralized
  • the browser provides a locale of “user-sovereignty” that the app (and mobile models) lack

What do people love about “apps”?  Here’s a starting list of characteristics:

  • convenience and fun
  • task -based — quick and effective
  • sense of ownership and being “close at hand” – icons, apps have a home on my device
  • discoverability
  • lots of innovation
  • distribution channel for developers
  • monetization channel for developers

What are some drawbacks of the current app experience?

  • Apps are often device specific, platform specific
  • Devices are the center of the world, not the person using them
  • Little if any interoperability across devices or platforms
  • System is implemented in a highly centralized model
  • Difficult for app and content creators to reach people without approval of gatekeepers
  • Requires permission at many levels — centralization allows a few App Store owners to control business model, pricing, relationships
  • Learned helplessness:  if there isn’t “an app for that” then it’s not worth trying to do something
  • Apps and web experiences live in separate silos

A Better World:  What Would an Open Apps Ecosystem Look Like?

A better world will marry the convenience and enjoyment of apps with the power of the web.  We will be able to:

  • take our apps cross-platform and cross-device, so when we update our phones we can take our apps with us whatever device we select.
  • bridge our contacts and social graph from different providers
  • share “leader boards” and other multi-player game elements across the web
  • control the access that apps have to our information; e.g., only allow apps to share information directly with our permission
  • discover apps in open and flexible ways just as we discover other content on the web
  • buy apps from multiple providers, who may add value through bundling, support, or services
  • interact directly with apps creators if we choose to
  • unify management of apps and website applications.

In this world both the browser and apps connect us to a universally accessible, interoperable Internet that encourages innovation without censorship.

This is a world worth building.

0

22 comments for “The “App Model” and the Web”

  1. 1

    __B__ said on August 9th, 2011 at 9:26 pm:

    Ok. Ths is worth building, but how? Any details? What exactly are you planning to do?

  2. 2

    Ferdinand said on August 9th, 2011 at 9:49 pm:

    The reason why people like apps over websites is that apps work like a device(calculator, alarmclock, dictionary, gameboy). This means it fits perfectly on your screen(no zooming or scrolling). It also means that it is available offline. And it means it integrates with other apps on the device.
    I love where the web is going but I have never used a webpage that comes even close to an app either on your phone or desktop. Even gmail the ‘webapp’ that I would think would be the first to offer offline support(so that it would work even better than thunderbird) is still a big slow loading webpage instead of a ‘webapp’ that just synchronizes with the web.
    Please help a few websites make webapps that fit the screen, work offline and integrate to demonstrate that they can be just as good as apps. That will earn the web trust that the users currently don’t have.

  3. 3

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    [...] the rest here: The “App Model” and the Web | Mitchell's Blog Apple, Apps, characteristics, different-view, the-characteristics, [...]

  4. 4

    Pingback from Mozilla to take on the cross-platform app challenge « Tim Anderson’s ITWriting

    [...] what is Mozilla to do? Mozilla Chair Mitchell Baker has posted about a possible new approach, based on being the alternative to Apple for apps. She lists some of [...]

  5. 5

    Pingback from Mozilla (Carefully) Slams Apple | ConceivablyTech

    [...] effort to remain polite and not to raise any unnecessary attention. An example from Baker’s latest post that describes Mozilla’s idea of an open web app [...]

  6. 6

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    [...] The “App Model” and the Web Mozilla’s mission is to bring openness, interoperability and user sovereignty to Internet life. We should do this in the apps world. We should embrace some aspects of the current app model as a complement to the browser model. We should also provide an alternative to aspects of the current app model that aren’t so open to interoperability and user sovereignty. [...]

  7. 7

    Ilyas Sahi said on August 14th, 2011 at 1:21 am:

    Apps should not be device and platform based. These should be universally accessible through any device regardless of the platform being used.

    Besides that I wonder, if there would be software, that would run equally well on MAC, Windows, and Linux without having to get the separate downloads for all of them.

  8. 8

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    [...] http://blog.lizardwrangler.com/2011/08/09/the-app-model-and-the-web/ [...]

  9. 9

    asdad said on August 14th, 2011 at 1:14 pm:

    Hi !

  10. 10

    asdad said on August 14th, 2011 at 1:14 pm:

  11. 11

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    Pingback from celebrity gossip

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  13. 13

    Pingback from New Firefox 6 belies rapid-release complaints | News Channel – Mind Processors

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  14. 14

    Pingback from New Firefox 6 belies rapid-release complaints | Christian Media Cross

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  15. 15

    Pingback from New Firefox 6 belies rapid-release complaints | RegionalForward.info

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  16. 16

    Pingback from New Firefox 6 belies rapid-release complaints | RegionalForward.info

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  17. 17

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  18. 18

    Baylink said on August 19th, 2011 at 7:44 pm:

    That might not be a bad target to be shooting for.

    But the reality is that there are lots of *web-based* applications out there now, and up until recently, Firefox has been a lot of people’s preferred target to specify for working with those.

    Asa Dotzsler, though, seems intent on purposefully ignoring that installed base, on the topics of version numbering and release tempo, as he’s been quoted in the press several times (saying that “perhaps IT shouldn’t be a target market for Firefox”, or something very similar to that.

    And in his continuing effort to burn Firefox’s (and by extension, Mozilla’s) reputation to the ground, I have to wonder if anyone on the board or in management has been paying any attention at all to the public, roaring fire here:

    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=678775

    Seriously: if I were his boss, I’d relieve him of whatever command he holds right this very minute, regardless of how much code he’s written, before he made my product irrelevant to a large segment of my target market.

    Whom, precisely, does management think *drove* those 400M downloads?

  19. 19

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  20. 20

    Pingback from Behind the Mozilla Apps Developer Preview « Binary Sunrise

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  21. 21

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