The Future of Mobile is the Web

I had a fun chance to share my thoughts on mobile and the web with my friends at Metavallon.


The world is going mobile. Of course, this shouldn’t be news to anyone remotely dialed in (to use an anachronistic term) to the developments of the Internet. In case you wanted to picture exactly how this is transpiring, here’s some big picture context:

  • Clear scenarios from developing countries using mobile far differently than we do in developed countries.
  • Very juicy global stats collected by Mozilla evangelist Robert Nyman.
  • And Robert drawing heavily from our market research partner VisionMobile – definitely check out their very handy reports (App Annie also rocks in this area).
  • As you start to immerse yourself in the world of mobile, you’ll notice a conflation between “web” and “apps.” Here’s a stark example:

    Note that this search is related to learning, so this likely represents either aspiring developers or – as the ensuing Twitter discussion elucidates – economic opportunists as opposed to technologists.

    If you are an economic opportunist, be sure to read the VisionMobile Q3 2014 Developer Economics report, and take two aspirins. Yet despite the bleak outlook for economic payoff from apps, many portend the death of the web on mobile.

    Now counter this with the fact that the pendulum from some (the?) significant players shows a swing back to becoming more “webby”:

  • Facebook introduced App Links (‘app-to-app linking’) this April.
  • Google is broadening the reach of its Android apps, supporting them running on Chrome.
  • Apple is making HTML5 friendlier than ever on the iPhone.
  • Why the shift?

    Among the strong voices is Benedict Evans, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz who has written extensively about the value of proprietary mobile ecosystems Evans concedes that apps are by necessity becoming more weblike. The reason is that the mobile app ecosystem lacks two things the web has:

  • You can link to any resource.
  • That resource will be there i.e. you don’t need to install anything.
  • Those two statements highlight that at its essence, the web is cross-platform and device-agnostic. That’s not true for mobile. Check out slide 8 of Robert’s deck. For mobile, device fragmentation has serious consequences for building, testing and deploying (let alone partnering) anything.

    At Mozilla we know the web wins on both merit and precedent, but it’s being threatened by mobile right now. So Mozilla is building the web in today’s world, and driving towards a future where we defend the web from threats of closed app stores and protocols and return it to the hands of developers who can link and publish to anything, anywhere.

    We’d love for you to join us!

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