Open-source software development initiative Mozilla plans to build an open marketplace for applications that run across mobile phones, tablets and the desktop, enabling developers to distribute and monetize without the restrictions enforced by ecosystems like Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Market.
Mozilla outlines the app marketplace in its 2012 roadmap, published Sunday. Mozilla principal product manager Ragavan Srinivasan cites a series of challenges the current app ecosystem poses for developers, including increased investment in building, maintaining, distributing and marketing apps optimized for each native platform; loss of control over customer relationships, update frequencies and technologies; and fragmentation of the consumer base. "Mozilla believes that the web is *the* platform and the entire web should be your marketplace," Srinivasan writes. "To this end, we are building products and services across three different threads."
Mozilla will build a cross-platform web runtime, dubbed Apps/WebRT, that leverages existing web rendering engines Gecko and WebKit as a base--from there, Mozilla will add native OS integration for installing, launching and managing apps, enhanced by additional capabilities like device APIs, permissioning models and the like. "By basing WebRT off existing web rendering engines, we also automatically get all the awesome work (such as performance improvements) for ‘free,'" Srinivasan explains.
Mozilla also will build monetization tools into WebRT and the accompanying marketplace, promising a one-click payment experience. "Using our payment solution, developers will be able to enable 1-click experiences for common transactions such as buying a premium app, in-app payments, subscriptions and more," Srinivasan writes. "Users will have the ability to choose from a variety of payment methods as the year progresses."
In mid-2011, Mozilla announced it is at work on an open, web-based mobile operating system. In a post to the mozilla.dev.platform wiki page, Mozilla researcher Andreas Gal explained that the initiative, dubbed Boot to Gecko, will "find the gaps that keep web developers from being able to build apps that are--in every way--the equals of native apps built for the iPhone, Android and [Windows Phone]." Boot to Gecko is scheduled for release later this year.
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