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Interview with Mozilla CTO and VP Mobile Andreas Gal on Why It Doesn’t Matter You Can’t Use Uber On Firefox OS

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Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch asks: "Native apps continue to define how people are using their mobile devices, while you have built Firefox OS around the mobile web. How are you getting around the fact that some of the most popular mobile apps today — like Uber — are just not available in a mobile web format?"

Andreas replies:

Yes, Uber is not available but this is not a problem so far. We don’t need Uber in Senegal, for example. A much bigger problem is to make sure we provide local apps, and for those using smartphone for the first time, this usually means local news and information, and local services.

But again, this is a gap that we have to close. Even Instagram is not fully optimised but even there you have at least a partial experience [of viewing and commenting, if not taking and posting pictures, via the web]. But as we turn to more established markets like the U.S., the content needs are changing. We will have to work closer with top brands, which are important in Japan and the North American market.

So basically his answer to the question is that people he's trying to get to use FirefoxOS are not the kind of people who would be customers for Uber anyway.

What he should have said is that the Web is open and free for all so we're going to make sure as many great apps can be built for the mobile Web as possible. 

By the way, yesterday Mozilla restructured to take a giant step back from building a mobile OS:

Instead Mozilla is going to go back to their roots of making great web browsers, according to CEO Chris Beard:

Mozilla and its Firefox browser have been hurting badly in the stakes for browser market against Google Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari, and now the company is preparing a bigger restructuring with its president and a mobile VP both leaving the company, along with a renewed marketing and product effort that it plans to kick off likely in May, as it looks to tackle this. This will include Mozilla finally releasing a version of Firefox for iOS.

TechCrunch has learned, and confirmed, that Li Gong, the president of Mozilla, and Rick Fant, its VP of mobile, are parting ways with the organization.


Separately, we’ve also been passed a leaked presentation that points to a major “fightback” marketing campaign that Mozilla has been planning starting in Q2, likely to start in May, to try to bring more users to Firefox. Mozilla has also confirmed the authenticity of that document to us.

The campaign will include increased marketing spend — separately and with its new search partner, Yahoo — to try to educate users on how Firefox is the “independent” option and different from Chrome, IE and the rest, and it will also focus on new product launches to spur use of the platform.

Specifically, Mozilla is planning finally to release a version of Firefox for iOS, and focus more users on its privacy controls as they sit in contrast to other browsers like Chrome.

The company has had a tough time competing against Google’s browser and IE. In the presentation, Mozilla internally describes Firefox as having entered 2014 in an “alarming decline” — although more recently it seems to have stabilized that position. In the time since then it’s launched other, smaller marketing campaigns that have proven successful, and currently has an 18% share of the market, compared to Chrome’s 41% and IE’s 28% in U.S. desktop browser usage. But globally, it’s more level with IE, with both significantly behind Chrome, with the shares of the three at 53% for Chrome, 19% for IE, and 18% for Firefox.

This new Firefox focus for Mozilla sounds excellent.

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