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Mozilla Hitting 'Brick Walls' Getting Firefox on Phones

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the watch-dino-hit-brick-wall dept.

Software 228

meteorit writes "Mozilla has been working on a mobile version of Firefox since last year, and is now looking to repeat the success of Firefox on the PC. Although development seems not to have been completed, it is known that informal negotiations have already started with mobile network operators. Firefox Mobile is scheduled to be launched by the end of the year and the inaugural version will be compatible with the Linux and Windows Mobile operating systems. Work is already underway to determine what the browser's UI will look like. In the meantime those negotiations seem to be hitting 'brick walls', as cellphone operators resist the intrusion of the open web onto their platforms."

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Surprised? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616770)

Thats what you get for freeing the niggers..

It's sad, no?

As of now (5, Informative)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616774)

Opera is the king of mobile browsers IMHO. IE, as expected, is marginal at best. On my Windows Mobile 6 phone, Opera cruises along.

As a loyal Firefox user, I'd LOVE to see a mobile version if it can compete with the speed of Opera.

Re:As of now (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616872)

Are they working off the Firefox 3 code base? That's supposedly been improved quite a bit, performance-wise.

Re:As of now (5, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616916)

I'm not a loyal anything user, but I really dislike the locked-down American cellphone situation. I'm not using my buying power to support apple/at&t for their nazi control over their device (even if you jailbreak it, you paid for the lock and so supported it) or any other platform, including opera mobile. Obviously I can't get by without a cellphone, but I just have a basic $20 KRAZR, no smart phone nonsense, and no putting $500 in the pockets of someone using it to get more locked down phones into the hands of the public.

Re:As of now (1)

bheekling (976077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617148)

Dammit, incorrectly modded you "redundant". Posting to remove the mod _

Re:As of now (5, Interesting)

pas256 (914134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617300)

The question is, why even both with the carriers... Firefox should be going straight to the manufacturers!

Re:As of now (1)

ronocdh (906309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617530)

even if you jailbreak it, you paid for the lock and so supported it
How so? Apple gets a substantial cut from the monthly AT&T revenues from the phone, which was negotiated to encourage Apple to actively work against jailbreakers. By buying the phone and jailbreaking it, you're really paying only for the device, and depriving Apple (and AT&T) of the monthly revenue stream the jailbreak is designed to ensure.

Re:As of now (5, Informative)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616924)

As a loyal Firefox user, I'd LOVE to see a mobile version if it can compete with the speed of Opera.
With Opera (mini and, i think, mobile), the pages you request are sent via Opera's servers, where they are put through some kind of compression. The upshot is that not only is Opera quicker, but I can visit almost twice the number of pages for my money. In practice, given that you can set it to not download pictures, I get about 3 times more pages-per-buck than when I use the browser the phone comes with.

I could seriously become a fanboy at this rate.

Re:As of now (4, Informative)

nxtw (866177) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617036)

Opera Mobile is a regular web browser that does not go through Opera's servers. It'll use your device's connection settings, so it could end up connecting through your wireless provider's WAP/HTTP gateway if your device is set up to use it. (The rendering engine in the current version of Opera Mobile is old - the PC & Wii versions are newer)

Opera Mini is a completely different product.

Re:As of now (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617062)

Opera mini connects through that same WAP/HTTP gateway. It's just that you are, effectively, visiting pages via Opera's proxy server.

Re:As of now (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617078)

only opera mini use the compression trick of the two. but there is a competing browser for windows mobile based phones, but the name slips me.

Re:As of now (0, Troll)

jgrahn (181062) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617118)

With Opera (mini and, i think, mobile), the pages you request are sent via Opera's servers, where they are put through some kind of compression. The upshot is that not only is Opera quicker, but I can visit almost twice the number of pages for my money.

Thanks for mentioning it so I can avoid Opera Mini.

I don't really see why a central proxy is significantly faster than a phone with a well-designed name resolver plus a well-designed browser, and a web server which supports Content-Encoding:gzip. Unless servers normally don't compress their responses ... hm. I should reread the Apache documentation.

Re:As of now (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617184)

Thanks for mentioning it so I can avoid Opera Mini.
Hey, don't mention it.

I'm not really using a mobile browser for its speed, the main benefit for me is that it saves me c.£150 a year. And by 'quicker' I mean in comparison to the browser the phone comes with. In, you know, real life.

Re:As of now (1)

outZider (165286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617290)

From what I understand, Opera Mini's servers deliver a package containing the html and other viewable content in one compressed bundle. All the well-designed name resolvers and browsers can't help the fact that latency generally sucks on low-power mobile networks, EDGE and below. The fewer requests you have to make (resolve > request > deliver), the better your experience will be.

Re:As of now (3, Informative)

Doogie5526 (737968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617350)

I don't really see why a central proxy is significantly faster than a phone with a well-designed name resolver plus a well-designed browser, and a web server which supports Content-Encoding:gzip.

Never used Opera on a cellphone, but from what I've read, the proxy will scale down the images before sending to the browser. No need to download the full res if you're viewing on a tiny screen. The browser does give you the option to download the full res version if requested, but i'm sure 90% of the time you're just using the images for navigation.

I'm sure it's obvious by now, but scaling down the images will reduce the bandwidth way more than gzipping them. Also, the proxy could add gzip compression even if the web server doesn't use it.

Re:As of now (2, Informative)

enemi (912289) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617488)

it uses their own proprietary markup language which leaves out all the data that is not cellphone-worthy (flash javascript whatnot), compresses the text quite a bit and compresses the images for the tiny display. this is where you save the most euro/megabyte

Re:As of now (1)

LarsG (31008) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617636)

The compression goes way beyond gzip. It essentially pre-digests the webpages.

Re:As of now (2, Informative)

zlogic (892404) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617174)

Some forums, powered by vBulletin, are over 120 kilobytes per page (without images), probably has to do something with badly formatted HTML and a lot of Javascript. Opera's servers compress these to about 6-8 KB, also without images. That's more than 10 times less traffic.

Re:As of now (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617188)

On the other hand, all data you retrieve goes through Opera's servers.

Re:As of now (3, Interesting)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617374)

Yup, that's the downside. And one I can accept, though others might feel differently.

I value my privacy, but have judged that, so long as I avoid sending sensitive passwords, bank card data etc., I am happy for a bunch of Swedish nerds to have access to my mobile browsing data. A damn sight happier than letting my phone company have the same data.

Re:As of now (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617638)

Try Ziproxy then. It compresses all your data and you may use any browser you want.

Re:As of now (1)

FonzCam (841867) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616938)

Opera is the king of the user installed browser, WM6 phones will come with Internet Explorer installed, the iPhone and Nokia S60 phones come with a WebKit based browser.

I'm not sure why anyone is expecting handset manufacturers and networks to drop their current default browsers in favour of an unproved and as yet unfinished Mozilla product.

Re:As of now (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617424)

They don't need to drop it and switch, what would be nice is if they allowed the user to put it on.

Opera for Set-Top-Boxes Problems (1)

c0d3r (156687) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617226)

I'm working at a company that wants to put opera on their custom stb based on a Sigma Designs SoC chipset, and opera does have a browser for this platform but what happened when I engaged Opera was a 'brick wall'. Aparently i can get their binary and run it on our linux based stb, but there are no drivers for anything unless you pay more for their SDK and pay even more for support to develop basic drivers that should already be there. For instance, it can't display on the screen because the frame buffer device interface doesn't exist, and must be developed or paid for separately, we're working with a group that already went through this, and what happens after 6 months and a bunch of money later is that the IR interface needs to go through the same bullshit, and who know what other hardware device interfaces need to go through this bullshit process, when the Sigma Designs SoC is pretty standard. It turns out that you probably have to pay more for every external IO interface such as HDMI, Composite, IR, Serial, keyboard ..etc.. and is not install and go.. it's probably the same bs for phones.
M

Re:As of now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617388)

Opera will be hard to beat. I hate its ui on the desktop, but as an embedded browser it just rocks.

I've tried it on the wii, on set-top boxes, and this post is being written with opera mini; it's the best out there...

Because (2, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616776)

companies think that free=no good.

Re:Because (1)

bgillespie (1228056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616816)

But if you give software away for free, that makes a more competitive and consumer friendly market! Why do something silly like that when vendor lock-in is such an easy and lucrative way to run a business?

Re:Because (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616852)

But if you give software away for free, that makes a more competitive and consumer friendly market! Why do something silly like that when vendor lock-in is such an easy and lucrative way to run a business?

They don't necessarily make more money being consumer friendly, and cutting a little on costs here might net them more expenses in the long run. They don't make money by allowing the market being competitive. Both are benefits to the consumer, not the service provider. The article explains more along this line.

Re:Because (2, Informative)

bgillespie (1228056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616978)

Should the bottom line always be profits?

Practically speaking, of course, it always is. But in the end, it all comes down to a class war between the wealthy and the not-as-wealthy in society. Anti-competitive trends in a market mean more profits for the "company", which translates primarily to more profits for the wealthy executives and investors associated with the company. Competitive trends, on the other hand, mean better value for the people who use the good or service, which translates to a smaller benefit for a larger group of people. When the wealthy executives and investors are making the choices, clearly the expected outcome is the one we're seeing here.

It seems to me that we're not necessarily disagreeing here.

Re:Because (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617066)

Should the bottom line always be profits?

But that's what the bottom line is, that's what the expression means.

I realize that we might not be disagreeing on several points.

I think part of the problem is that there aren't very many wireless carriers, though oddly enough, there are more wireless carriers in more areas than there are wired ISPs. I think the hope was that the 700MHz spectrum would shake things up a bit, but there was the same hope with WiMax too.

Re:Because (2, Insightful)

bgillespie (1228056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617270)

But that's what the bottom line is, that's what the expression means.

I understand that that's the common usage of the expression, but it can also be used to mean "the deciding factor", which is what I intended. All I'm suggesting is that in an ideal world perhaps money wouldn't be the only thing that corporations considered when making business decisions.

Re:Because (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617172)

But in the end, it all comes down to a class war between the wealthy and the not-as-wealthy in society.

Well, you can try to reduce the conflict to that. There's even a name for that point of view.

Re:Because (4, Insightful)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616878)

Not exactly, it's because mobile phone companies think that having complete platform control is a lot more important than allowing an open browser to upset their applecart.

And from their perspective -they're right. If you don't control the application you want to make sure that the people who do control it are either under your influence, or have similar goals. Open source isn't under their influence, and the goals of open source are diametrically opposite of the manufacturers'.

Re:Because (4, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616976)

The consumers are left out of this equation.

Many will think enough is enough with paying $3 for some crappy midi file for a ring tone and want to run their phone like their pcs.

I for one refuse to buy high end phones for this reason. I want to run my own apps and not pay through the nose for their drm infested crappy software.

If you read my posts I am in favor of the free market and not some gnu zealot but when a company dictates how to use something I paid for and halts innovation I get mad.

I am not the only one and a truly free phone will attract all the developers and therefore bring all teh apps and cool games. After this their business model is done. You can't just lock a whole market up. Eventually someone like lets say google and their andriod sdk will come along and provide serious competition.

Re:Because (2, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617050)

Eventually someone like lets say google and their andriod sdk will come along and provide serious competition.

Yeah, lets all bow down at the alter of google. They'll just force us to view ads while data mining our conversations and text messages. I'd sure like to get in on that.

Re:Because (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617194)

We're supposed to love google.

They use Linux a lot.

They hire a lot of smart people.

Isn't it self-evident that we're supposed to love google?

Re:Because (4, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617104)

I think it's a sign that capitalism is deeply and critically flawed that things are turning out the way they are. It's not a good sign for the free market that we have to resort to socialism in order to restore basic economic and consumer freedoms.

It's a sinking ship you cling to, just in case you hadn't noticed.

Re:Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617750)

Yeah capitalism is flawed.

This whole "The Earth" thing really isn't returning the investment.

Re:Because (3, Funny)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617166)

"I for one refuse to buy high end phones for this reason. I want to run my own apps and not pay through the nose for their drm infested crappy software.

If you read my posts I am in favor of the free market and not some gnu zealot but when a company dictates how to use something I paid for and halts innovation I get mad."
- Billy Gates

I love the irony.

Re:Because (1)

trytoguess (875793) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617406)

Eventually someone like lets say google and their andriod sdk will come along and provide serious competition.

Huh... whatever did happen to OpenMoko? I figure you meant they're not a serious competition in the cell phone market, but I'm somewhat surprised the enthusiasm for it died down in favor of a phone that doesn't exist yet.

Re:Because (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617596)

The first OpenMoko phone didn't even have EDGE data rates. It had some neat features, but let's face it--it was doomed to failure because of this.

Re:Because (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617072)

...even so, it's only a matter of time.

Since recently there has been a ruling to the effect of preventing carriers from locking out equipment not sold by them, there will be pure equipment makers who will find generic software offerings such as FireFox mobile quite attractive when adding value to their hardware offerings. The first one to shed their fear of control loss will be the first one to find that giving the consumer what they want often leads to consumer loyalty and enduring profits.

Re:Because (1)

RonnyJ (651856) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616954)

Is 'Firefox Mobile' really going to be offered as completely free to the mobile phone operators though?

If that's really the case, then why the need for the negotiation mentioned in the topic - let people download it themselves. I suspect, however, that they're looking for some sort of bundling deal.

Firefox that cannot connect is next to useless (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617068)

If that's really the case, then why the need for the negotiation mentioned in the topic - let people download it themselves.
Of course users can download it. But when a user tries to transfer the program to her phone, she gets an alert box that the certificate used to sign Firefox has not been trusted by the network operator. To protect the user from rogue programs that consume the megabytes that the user has paid for, the phone has blocked Firefox from accessing the network.

Re:Firefox that cannot connect is next to useless (3, Interesting)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617120)

I've never experienced that, but I am in the UK, which from what I can tell has a much healthier mobile phone market.

That would drive me nuts though. Can you download 'offending' apps to a computer then transfer it locally?

I am angry just thinking about that error message.

Starts with "M" (0)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617322)

companies think that free=no good.
In this case, perhaps they're right. Picture this: there's a company that makes a widely used free browser which is trying to develop a mobile version for cell phones. The product isn't even finished yet and is likely still in alpha stage. However, that hasn't stopped this company from approaching cell phone manufacturers to attempt to get this unproven product installed as the de-facto browser.

Oh, and the name of this company starts with "M". With that description, most people would guess incorrectly which company it is.
 

Fixed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617552)

cellphone operators in the United States resist the intrusion of the open web onto their platforms."

Bollocks (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617730)

He said, posting from a pub in Berlin, using his Nokia e61.

it has sfa to do with free software.

There are three problems.

1. the american market is a fucking nightmare. American consumers are hopelessly naive and continue to allow the operators to run their little walled gardens.

2. Firefox is not renowned for it's ability to run in 16mb of ram. Opera can. Works great. Cut the bloat.

3. Naivete within mozilla org. Wtf would you start with the US.market? everyone in the mobile world knows it's sewn up. It's only 5% of the world. Look further afield people.

Don't forget the iPhone (5, Interesting)

stokessd (89903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616786)

There's certainly room for it on the iPhone as well. Safari is all nice, but I would like adblock on it, especially on the edge network when every byte counts.

Sheldon

Re:Don't forget the iPhone (2, Interesting)

pebs (654334) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616908)

There's certainly room for it on the iPhone as well. Safari is all nice, but I would like adblock on it, especially on the edge network when every byte counts.

NoScript [noscript.net] would also help in that respect.

Re:Don't forget the iPhone (2, Informative)

abigor (540274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616948)

Well, Adblock for Safari obviously exists: http://safariadblock.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] , so I guess it's just a matter of Apple allowing 3rd party software installs. I don't own an iPhone, so I'm not really sure what the situation is there.

Re:Don't forget the iPhone (1)

Winckle (870180) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617252)

Thank you so much for that.

Re:Don't forget the iPhone (1)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616958)

Safari (for Mac) has a downloadable ad-blocker addon called PithHelmet; I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it appear for the iPhone at some point.

Re:Don't forget the iPhone (1)

pjludlow (707302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617122)

Considering a lot of the ads I see are Flash based ads then by way of viewing the web on the iPhone you already have a built-in ad blocker because it doesn't support Flash. It's not a bug it's a feature sort of thing.

Re:Don't forget the iPhone (2, Interesting)

thsths (31372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617348)

There's certainly room for it on the iPhone as well.
The fact that the iPhone is the "most open" platform say it all. Phones are a convenient way for the networks to control customers. This also means that they are not enabling technology. I am confident that Firefox will change this, but it may take some time.

Re:Don't forget the iPhone (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617686)

Is that a fact?

Re:Don't forget the iPhone (1)

porneL (674499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617410)

If you set up a VPN [pornel.net] you can browse via Privoxy [privoxy.org] (removes ads) and Ziproxy (compresses the rest).

Re:Don't forget the iPhone (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617578)

and Ziproxy (compresses the rest).

This is a very interesting software for mobile web.
At work, we do use that as a HTTP WAN accelerator (dedicated city-city links, quite expensive ones) and it's a life saver.

Just another reason to unlock your phone (2, Insightful)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616818)

Period. You can't stop software spreading if customers want it.

Re:Just another reason to unlock your phone (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617058)

Tell that to all the folks running Linux on modded XBox 360s.

If the hardware maker is really into screwing the user, something phone makers will consider business as usual, they will do it regardless of what users want.

One has competition; the other doesn't. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617106)

Tell that to all the folks running Linux on modded XBox 360s.
But at least the Xbox 360 has a competitor that isn't entirely unfriendly to free software: a PC with television output. Locked phones don't have such a competitor in the United States. Every retail chain that carries mobile phones that I have seen in Fort Wayne, Indiana, carries only locked phones.

Re:Just another reason to unlock your phone (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617206)

People have gotten linux running on 360s, so what is your point?

Also there are working modchips for it.

Bull (1)

adam1234 (696497) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616824)

Complete bull. The browser UI hasn't even been developed yet, and the Mozilla community expects the phone community to accept it with open arms?

Come up with an innovative and usable UI *first*, then try to get it onto phones.

what the UI will look like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616828)

Hopefully it'll look like IE, the world's most popular browser... why would you make it look like anything else?

Of course they are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616846)

Phones have a limited amount of memory. Firefox just wouldn't fit after running for a few minutes!

(It's a joke. I use Firefox all the time and rarely see Firefox break 100MB.)

Re:Of course they are (1)

clark0r (925569) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616926)

I guess you haven't discovered the 'tabs' feature yet? I'm using nightly builds of FF3 which seem to leak a LOT less than FF2 and all I have open is Gmail and 3 Slashdot articles and memory usage is already 138,xxx K. Granted that's low but still over 100mb ;)

Re:Of course they are (1)

Saurian_Overlord (983144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617566)

Um, FF 2.0.0.12 with 6 tabs open here, including /. and Gmail, and I haven't broken 80MB yet. Anyway, it's a moot point since even 30 or 40MB is way too much RAM usage for a typical mobile phone.

Re:Of course they are (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617114)

(It's a joke. I use Firefox all the time and rarely see Firefox break 100MB.)
My Windows Mobile based phone has 10MB of free program memory when no programs are running.

It's important to read the article (5, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616866)

One reason this walled garden approach benefits cellular operators is that they get paid both by subscribers and by content providers. With open Internet access, only subscribers pay. Another benefit is that their approach reduces use of limited 3G bandwidth, meaning carriers don't have to build a more robust network.
I don't know if the blogger is confused himself or is deliberately muddying the waters - but very little of his argument applies to Firefox at all (even tangentially). He is hop-scotching around (such as the quote included above), making it hard to argue against because he seems to be jumping back and forth randomly between about ten different subjects.

So let's assume that the title of his little rant is indicative of what he thought he was writing about. Somehow he seems to be drawing the conclusion that, sans an open-source web browser, people aren't allowed to browse websites of their own choosing! I'd love to see Firefox on mobile platforms; but really - even my friends with Windows Mobile phones are checking their Gmail; I see them looking at all sorts of odd pages; and I have never heard them complain that their carrier won't let them visit any arbitrary page. I do hear them complaining about the crappy internet experience they're having, due to the poor design of the browser; but that's a completely different subject (and while Firefox could potentially address that, Safari already does - and it's got nothing to do with the openness of the browser, per se, anyway).

When the web was first getting onto mobile phones, I realize people weren't given free reign in their browsing habits - but c'mon, that was three or four years ago.

Re:It's important to read the article (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616920)

Hmmm ... This didn't make sense until I realized that, to the cellular providers, "content" includes ads, while to most users, "content" is everything except the ads. With this understanding, it makes sense that the cellular providers would want to keep firefox out, because firefox allows customers to block content (i.e., ads), and the cellular provider loses income from the content (ad) providers.

More generally, of course, the cellular providers want to be the one deciding which content to block, not the customers. Firefox and the other mozilla browsers allows customers to block undesirable content (ads), thus taking control away from the cellular provider.

It all makes sense to me, in a rather cynical way.

Re:It's important to read the article (1)

bgillespie (1228056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617018)

Wouldn't credit for ads being funneled through a web-browser be given to the website which served them, not the cellular provider which is acting as an ISP? It doesn't seem like ad-blocking would be much of a detriment unless the business plan was to make money off of consumed bandwidth.

Re:It's important to read the article (1)

alphakappa (687189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617408)

How does the service provider make money from ads on random websites? The website provider makes money, the ad distributor makes money - the service provider does not come into the picture at all. For example, if I visit slashdot using my iPhone on the AT&T network and I click an ad, Slashdot makes money, but neither Apple nor AT&T make a dime off it. Conversely, if I block ads, Slashdot will potentially lose some income, but that wouldn't be a concern to Apple or AT&T.

Safari has spotty coverage (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617160)

I do hear them complaining about the crappy internet experience they're having, due to the poor design of the browser; but that's a completely different subject (and while Firefox could potentially address that, Safari already does - and it's got nothing to do with the openness of the browser, per se, anyway).
Safari doesn't work in Vermont, most of New Hampshire and Maine, or other areas not served by AT&T Inc. From the legend at AT&T's coverage viewer [att.com] :

Excessive use of Partner coverage may subject your service to early termination, in accordance with your service terms. Data services may not be available.
So for the next four and a half years while the iPhone is still exclusive to AT&T, Safari won't work in those areas unless someone makes a phone-sized Windows PC that can run the Windows version of Safari.

and what do we call Opera? (2, Interesting)

shareme (897587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616904)

And what do we call Opera and Safari? has more to do with dismal performance and lost less to do with being open

Their phones?? (4, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616942)

I thought we owned all own phones like we do computers? Why can't we run our own software? Or develop software for them?

Can you imagine living in a world where you could not develop programs for your own computer?

Fuck em!

Seriously port firefox to andriod only. If enough developers switch to a platform that allows them to compete and run their own software the users will follow. I know many here hate Java but why can't we live in a world that is free?

Would you rather own a locked down phone or one where all the free apps on the internet run on? I would pick the latter.

Consumers run WIndows over Linux and MacOSX because its where the apps are at. The phone companies are going to create the ultimate competitor if they are not careful and dictate to the rest of us what to use.

Re:Their phones?? (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617268)

As a pretext, I agree with the benefits of openness and software freedom. The point of my response is to address where users who are not tech-geeks would prefer a closed solution.

I thought we owned all own phones like we do computers? Why can't we run our own software? Or develop software for them?

We can't run our own software because it hasn't been tested. If loading and executing applications on phones was trivial, you'd see text-message exploits that load ad-software onto your phone and then send copies of the exploited message to your entire contact list. I am speculating here, but the base Operating Systems running your phones are tested in their plain vanilla environments which would be fairly easy to hack with 3rd party development... and that is why you can't do it.

Can you imagine living in a world where you could not develop programs for your own computer?

Could you imagine living in a world where you could not manufacture a wrench or a hammer? Yes, you could. Because like wrenches and hammers, computers are tools for the majority of the population. Who cares how they are made, as long as they do the job?

As a software engineer, it is bad to be locked out from doing development. However, that is why organizations like FSF are competing with MSFT and Apple.

Seriously port firefox to andriod only. If enough developers switch to a platform that allows them to compete and run their own software the users will follow. I know many here hate Java but why can't we live in a world that is free?

I am not sure of details of Android, but I do know that it is from Google and that Google's applications are generally not "Open". They are "free" because they are ad-supported, which appeases the majority of the population, but the are not "free" as defined by all 4 rules of the FSF. I would rather see hardware that is truly "Open" be the basis for this development -- so that I can buy the raw components and fork the design for my own needs.

As far as locking onto any single platform... are you aware that the IBM-PC and a certain brand of OS software became successful because they supported a wide range of hardware platforms?

And as far as Java, I like Java. I've never really heard claims that people don't like it, so maybe you could enlighten me with a response.

Would you rather own a locked down phone or one where all the free apps on the internet run on? I would pick the latter.

I disagree with their pricing scheme for internet access. I would actually prefer a mobile device that is NETWORK AGNOSTIC before I even start talking about which Applications I can and cannot run (as an aside, I have a simple Verizon cell phone that does not have Bluetooth or WiFi... so Network Agnostic phones may actually be more ubiquitous than I know).

And for now, the only application that I need my phone to perform is "voice communication", and it does it satisfactorily. A bonus application would be "not dying after 20 minutes of talking", but that is standard for cheap 20 month old mobile batteries of any kind.

Consumers run WIndows over Linux and MacOSX because its where the apps are at. The phone companies are going to create the ultimate competitor if they are not careful and dictate to the rest of us what to use.

Is your argument targeted at consumers or developers? Are you considering the benefits to vendors or users? Hell... if it were easy, the F/OSS development community would deploy a nationwide WiMax network and offer a line of cellular products with all the bells and whistles for $0.00 a month with "Donate to support the F/OSS Communications Network" links (kinda like Wikipedia). Unfortunately, it costs lots of money to do this, and so the phone companies get to keep their duopoly... and they get to protect their cheap OS's by not letting you run your software on them, and they get to keep their users for at least the next two years because we are locked in with contracts.

Re:Their phones?? (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617416)

I thought we owned all own phones like we do computers?
You must not be a Verizon customer^Wvictim.

Yet another reason... (3, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22616972)

...not to use a cell phone to browse the web. But I didn't really need another reason. The screen is way too small. Almost no web pages are designed for cell phones. There's no mouse or keyboard. I don't need another monthly bill.

Re:Yet another reason... (1)

stokessd (89903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617074)

The small screen thing is valid. I have a iPac 4800 with is 640x480 and surfing with it sucked. The iPhone has an even smaller screen, but the zoom capability is a lot better thought out and surfing is a whole lot better. I'm not saying that to be a fanboi, but I'd expect that as all mobile platforms mature, the limitations of the small screen resolution will be worked around. Apple proved it can be done effectively, and I'm sure the android folks will be equally effective.

The lack of a mouse is not a huge limitation either provided that you have another equally useful input method (touch screen for example). The keyboards on all mobile devices pretty much suck universally when compared to even a laptop. But surfing is often more reading than writing.

I used to think that I didn't need mobile web until I had it. Now I wonder what I did without it. It's just like carrying a cell phone, a decade ago I thought it too was silly.

Sheldon

Re:Yet another reason... (1)

donstenk72 (593985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617132)

It is extremely useful for a lot work situations. When out with clients I can check my realtime stock by logging on to the intranet using 3G on my Nokia E61. I do need to do a fair bit of scrolling but it beats carrying a laptop for that purpose. I did take a subscription with unlimited datatraffic however - 20 pm in Italy. It is also a great backup if ADSL fails in the office (as it does here) - faster then a modem (which I don't have) and faster to setup over bluetooth.

Just to say that just because you don't have a use for it it does not mean a technology isn't very useful for others.

Re:Yet another reason... (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617222)

There's plenty of situations where having internet-applications like a browser or a map-tool or a SSH-terminal is really useful.
It's dumb to use a mobile phone for leisure-browsing, that doesn't make it useless to have access to a "real" web browser in the phone.
Wouldn't buy one of those "smart"-phones though... They don't offer much useful functionality over a regular one. With my mainstream, non-3G, Sony-Ericsson I can access the web, search maps, listen to music, use SSH, have a calendar, adressbook, read mail, do instant messaging, use a bluetooth gps, play games, etc, etc.

Most of this is not something I do often, but having the ability there saves the day when you encounter a situation where you do need it.

"Brick Wall" indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22616984)

I'm posting this using Opera Mini 4 on my Blackberry 8300 over AT&T's EDGE network while sitting on the toilet. I don't understand what Mozilla seems to think is the problem.

Most Java-enabled phones can just hit operamini.com and download the JAD. Mozilla is free to take that approach, but it seems they'd rather complain about not getting bundled on new phones (at least, that's what I assume the complaint is as the article is lacking any real details). This is especially silly to whine about since they don't even have a finished product yet and the product they do have runs on a very limited selection of mobile operating systems.

Symbian OS? (3, Interesting)

Evan Meakyl (762695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617000)

I am glad that Firefox is availaible on the Windows & linux phone, but why nothing is (seems?) to be done regarding the Symbian OS? (wikipedia says that it is "the leading OS in the 'smart mobile device' market. Statistics published February 2007 showed that Symbian OS had a 67% share of the 'smart mobile device' market,"

Does someone have some information about the "why?" (I know you can tell me that if I am willing, I can start developping it myself, but actually I have to much projects to cope with...)

And another question: I own a Nokia E-61. If Firefox is not planed for Symbian OS, I am willing to install Linux Mobile on it. Can someone give me a pointer to what I should do to do this?

Re:Symbian OS? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617146)

The problem is that Symbian, in C++, is deeply unpleasant to develop for, and very different to Palm, Windows CE or really, anything else.

The documentation is atrocious - there aren't many examples in it, and as opposed to Win32, where you can usually figure out how to use a function from the MSDN library's description of it, trying to do that will generally result in something that fails in an obscure way. As a rule the only sure way to find out how something is done is to find someone else who's already done it and try to figure out what they did that makes it work.

Symbian has only recently ported stdlib to it properly, in what I presume is an act of desperation to try and get people to develop for it. V9 solves the problem where all applications had to be DLLs with no global storage allowed, but it also adds a particularly paranoid code-signing system where your app has to be signed before it is possible to run it outside of the emulator.

That's been my experience, anyway. However - there is a whitepaper on how Opera was ported to Symbian. I can't find a freely accessible version of it right now, but it's a fascinating read and it illustrates full well why porting Mozilla would be very, very difficult.

Re:Symbian OS? (3, Insightful)

Linux Ate My Dog! (224079) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617298)

I do not know why you have been modded -1. I have developed in Symbian when I worked for Nokia, and it is exatly as you describe: deeply unpleasant.

Re:Symbian OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617332)

How about Opera Mini? It works for your phone and they have a non-mobile option to view pages.

Re:Symbian OS? (1)

saihung (19097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617554)

I don't understand this entire conversation. I have an unlocked Nokia N75, which is a Symbian phone. I can install any software I please on it, and as long as there's EDGE or even GPRS coverage, I can do what I like with the so-called "open web." For that matter, even though the locked AT&T version of the N75 was loaded with crapware, you could still install your own software on it.

I don't care about waiting for the phone companies to agree. It's my phone, I own it, I pay for unlimited data, and I'll install what I like. Now gimme some candy, Mozilla!

Aside: Nokia's "Web" browser is pretty much the best mobile browser I've ever used. If your phone doesn't have this app on it already, then you're either not looking hard enough or you need a firmware update.

I dunno... (1)

ohxten (1248800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617020)

I love FF, but you have to admit, it's not the most lightweight browser out there. Opera works well on phones because it's got a fast rendering engine and low memory footprint. It'll be interesting to see how FF will be able to handle this.

Re:I dunno... (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617658)

It looks pretty lightweight to me [mozillazine.org] , if by that you mean it consumes fewer resources than other browsers. On the other hand, if you've got a way to demonstrate Firefox being a pig (one that we can all see and confirm), we'd all love to see it...

its all about control, of your money (2, Insightful)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617134)

I have a Treo and use Sprint for my network. The browser they supply is rigged so that I can not download anything bigger than a couple of k in size. Not even a full SlashDot web page! This prevents me from downloading any media files that I did not purchase from them and also any applications I might like to run on it. They are attempting a complete lockin situation by virtue of keeping me from using anything I don't buy from them. I have news for them, I WONT buy from them because they won't let me use what I want when I want. In the final analysis I still transfer what I want to listen to and/or read on my device, they just make it harder than it needs to be.


I for one would welcome Firefox on all my mobile devices as along as it lets me download what I want.

Opera != just a browser. Firefox can't compete (3, Interesting)

cybernanga (921667) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617154)

Opera mini is more than just a browser. They have a proxy server that grabs the page, and re-renders it to suit your phone's screen. That causes a very slight delay, while their server re-renders the page, but it saves a heck of a lot of bandwidth. All images are resized. Long lists are collapsed etc.

I'm not sure that Firefox will be able to compete in this arena without creating a proxy server system of their own. I'm not against them trying, I just want to make it clear to those of you who haven't used Opera Mini, that it is more than just a browser.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Re:Opera != just a browser. Firefox can't compete (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617586)

I agree and am not really sure why you got flamed on that one. It's almost as if you made a pro MS comment or said something not entirely negative about Christianity!

Hasn't stopped Opera (0)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617156)

"In the meantime those negotiations seem to be hitting 'brick walls', as cellphone operators resist the intrusion of the open web onto their platforms."

This made my BS detector go off. I've been running Opera Mobile (which is very nice) as the alternative to Pocket IE on my Motorola Q for a long time now. There is nothing stopping Mozilla from making a mobile browser. Sounds like they want it *bundled*, which is a different challenge.

Why whine about operators? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617168)

Opera doesn't have any problems with free java-based browsers on mobiles, and neither do any number of other ones. Why should any ISP have to get involved - it's not their problem, nor will they make any money out of it, other than via data traffic, which is apparently something which they don't seem that bothered about, at least in the UK.

Re:Why whine about operators? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617646)

From the UK perspective this does all seem a bit confusing, but from what I gather in the US the carriers actually mandate what browser you can install and even what websites that you view. It's the North Korea of the mobile phone market.

I see no problem with Mozilla creating a version of Firefox for Symbian and WM, everyone who wants it if they feel they need to and that's the end of the story... don't see what the carriers have to do with it - it's none of the bleedin' business. No different to Opera 5 years or so ago on the Nokia 7650, where it was a separate download (that was a decent phone btw. one of the best I ever owned).

I'll tell you why there is no mobile firefox! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617380)

It's because no phone has that much ram to spare. Today, on my laptop, after browsing the web for an hour or so, memory usage for the firefox process has ballooned to over 500 megabytes. That's insane.

As much as I like firefox (and noscript & adblock), it isn't going to run on a cell phone anytime soon at this rate.

Call-me-Kenneth knows the answer.... (1)

call-me-kenneth (1249496) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617396)

It's obvious! [google.com]

Completely misleading headline (1)

roca (43122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617482)

There is nothing here about "Mozilla Hitting 'Brick Walls' Getting Firefox on Phones".

Some blogger is *talking* about brick walls and speculating that they might make it hard to get Firefox on phones. There is no data showing that is actually the case.

Law suit (1)

omgamibig (977963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22617548)

Where's the law suit to open up the phones? Microsoft had to and Firefox walked right through the door.

reasonable mobile browsing, & it ain't a phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22617568)

The Nokia N800/N810 has an 800 pixel wide screen, and fits in my shirt pocket. Under OS2008, it runs Firefox, Adblock, Flashblock, and provides (barely) enough power to watch youtube videos.

It's by far in a way the best shirt-pocket browsing device I've ever seen, and it uses plain old wifi so you aren't locked into anybody's data plan or whims. Plus, it'll run ssh and rdesktop and lots of other nifty things.

With the backlight on low, I get 8 hrs of browsing out of it without a problem, and 4-5 days of standby time (the device isn't off in that state, so a screen tap instantly ( 0.5 sec) brings it back).

People browsing on these little 128 or 200 wide phone screens bewilder me. IMHO, 800 pixels is the *minimum* you really need for a tolerable browsing experience.

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