Mozilla to Take On Chromecast with Firefox Streaming Stick

Mozilla has been quietly working with a partner on a Firefox OS-powered streaming media dongle that could compete with Google’s Chromecast. While the device does not yet have a name, it has been shared with a small group of developers, and photos have leaked via Twitter. GigaOM obtained a prototype that it says works similarly to Chromecast, even running some of its apps. And since Firefox OS is an open platform, the device may not have some of the same restrictions as Chromecast. Continue reading Mozilla to Take On Chromecast with Firefox Streaming Stick

Internet Giants Dispute Proposed FCC Rules on Net Neutrality

More than 100 Internet companies and two FCC commissioners are voicing their concerns over FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to regulate broadband providers. Wheeler’s plan would allow broadband companies to charge fees to content providers that want to access the fastest lanes, a proposal that does not treat all Internet traffic equally. Amazon, Facebook, Google and Yahoo are among the companies that described the proposal as “a grave threat to the Internet” in a letter to Wheeler. Continue reading Internet Giants Dispute Proposed FCC Rules on Net Neutrality

Phone Makers Target Emerging Markets with Low-End Devices

Although high-end smartphone makers such as Apple and Samsung usually get the most press, other established companies are attempting to tap into emerging markets by focusing on inexpensive, low-tech versions of their phones. At the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, companies including Nokia, Google and BlackBerry displayed phones priced between $100-$200. Other companies are aiming to go even lower, below $100, including China’s ZTE Corp. Continue reading Phone Makers Target Emerging Markets with Low-End Devices

MPAA Joins W3C to Help Standardize Video Copy Protection

In an effort to join the official conversation on how to come up with a solution for copy protection of videos on the Web, the Motion Picture Association of America has joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which makes official decisions on Web standards like HTML. A new HTML component allows websites to host video directly on their sites instead of having to use a video tag, which doesn’t enable copy protection. Some, however, don’t care for the new approach. Continue reading MPAA Joins W3C to Help Standardize Video Copy Protection

Tech Firms Step Up Efforts on Digital Counter Surveillance

The “Snowden Effect” has caused a ripple among major tech companies trying to assure consumers that their personal information is secure and protected in data centers. Following the surveillance revelations by Edward Snowden, the question on everyone’s mind is whether their private and confidential data has been secured from prying eyes online. A number of companies, concerned by the National Security Agency’s actions, are working to protect their customers’ data.

Continue reading Tech Firms Step Up Efforts on Digital Counter Surveillance

Google May Implement Anonymous Identifier to Replace Cookies

Google may change the way that online browsing activity is tracked by developing an anonymous identifier for advertising, or AdID. This identifier would essentially replace third-party cookies to track browsing information, which would then be used for marketing purposes. The identifier would be sent to advertisers and ad networks that agree to certain guidelines, while providing users with greater privacy and control over how they browse the Internet. Continue reading Google May Implement Anonymous Identifier to Replace Cookies

New Firefox OS Looks to Power More Affordable Smartphones

Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, recently announced the debut of the first smartphones powered by the Web-based Firefox OS. These modest smartphones are targeting first time buyers and consumers looking for less expensive alternatives to iPhones and Android phones. Firefox OS may not compete on the same level with Apple and Google, but it does present an opportunity for new Web-based devices that can offer many features. Continue reading New Firefox OS Looks to Power More Affordable Smartphones

Mozilla Planning Affordable Smartphones for Firefox Adoption

Mozilla is teaming up with major phone manufacturers as part of a plan to offer sub-$50 smartphones in emerging markets. The company is looking at international regions with growth potential as the global market for smartphones continues to take off. Mozilla is also pushing for more mobile devices to run its Firefox operating system, which it is pitching as an alternative to dominant systems from Google and Apple. Continue reading Mozilla Planning Affordable Smartphones for Firefox Adoption

Alternative Mobile Platforms Look to Join Apple and Google

Notable handset makers and telecom carriers are turning to alternative mobile operating systems in an effort to beat Microsoft and Research In Motion to the punch as the next credible challenger to smartphones run by Apple and Google. A range of companies are hoping an alternative platform to market leaders iOS and Android will emerge. Watch for devices running Firefox OS, Tizen, Ubuntu and Sailfish. Continue reading Alternative Mobile Platforms Look to Join Apple and Google

Will ORBX Codec Turn the Web into Platform for All Apps?

Mozilla and rendering firm OTOY have developed a new codec that is designed to stream cloud-stored apps, video content and more directly to browsers. The JavaScript-based system opens up possibilities of running native PC apps on any connected device, purchasing and protecting content without DRM, and embracing HTML5 rather than relying on proprietary or legacy plug-ins. The creators also see it as a means of combating piracy.

Continue reading Will ORBX Codec Turn the Web into Platform for All Apps?

Industry Responds to Upswing in Online Privacy Concerns

As Internet users become more aware of online privacy issues, Internet companies are working to prove that consumer data is safe and under control. Some companies are even trying to gain advantage in the market by promoting themselves as more privacy-friendly than their rivals. Mozilla recently took this approach when it announced it would allow users to disable third-party tracking software. Others have taken similar tacts. Continue reading Industry Responds to Upswing in Online Privacy Concerns

New Mobile Operating Systems Look to Disrupt iOS and Android

Apple and Google dominate the smartphone software market with a combined 87 percent control, but new competitors hope to chip away at this duopoly. New entrants including Tizen, the Mozilla Foundation and Ubuntu hope that introducing competing operating systems would help convince consumers to purchase products through alternatives to the Google or Apple stores. Continue reading New Mobile Operating Systems Look to Disrupt iOS and Android

Groups Take Sides in Battle Over Proposed Internet Censorship Bill

  • Nine Internet giants (Google, eBay, AOL, Facebook, Yahoo, Zynga, LinkedIn, Mozilla and Twitter) have joined forces to place full page ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and The Washington Times expressing their objection to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act.
  • The measures protect against copyright infringement by requiring “technology companies and Internet service providers to block access to any website that the entertainment industry believes ‘engages in, enables or facilitates’ copyright infringement,” reports Digital Trends.
  • The proposed pieces of legislation “have strong bipartisan support in Congress, as well as backing from the Motion Picture Association of America, a variety of Hollywood union organizations, and even Master Card and Pfizer.”
  • In a related post, The Next Web reports that the Business Software Alliance (BSA) supports SOPA and commends Congress for “curb[ing] the growing rash of software piracy and other forms of intellectual property theft that are being perpetrated by illicit websites.”
  • Member of BSA include Adobe, Apple, Dell, Intel, Microsoft and 24 other tech companies.

Coders and Filmmakers Discuss Supercharging Web Video with Popcorn

  • Filmmakers and coders gathered in San Francisco for a recent “hackathon” to explore the future of Web video. Discussions focused on Popcorn.js — “Mozilla’s HTML5 media toolkit designed to amp up interactivity,” according to Wired.
  • Popcorn is a framework “that allows filmmakers to supplement their movies with news feeds, Twitter posts, informational windows or even other videos, which show up picture-in-picture style. For example, if a subject in a film mentions a place, a link can pop up within the video or alongside it, directing the viewer to a Google Map of the location.”
  • While initially hesitant that such enhancements would distract viewers from the movie experience, directors reportedly grew accepting of the concept of providing a more interactive experience.
  • “It’s easy to envision Popcorn helping filmmakers with their productions as well as creating communities for films after their release,” reports Wired. “At least one documentary project, ‘One Millionth Tower,’ has already made use of the tools, coupling Popcorn with 3D graphics generator WebGL to create a Web-ready documentary that shows what would happen if the residents of a Toronto highrise were allowed to participate in re-creating their home tower.”

Are There Implications to Consider Regarding the Silk Web Browser?

  • As part of its New York press event yesterday that unveiled the Kindle Fire tablet and three new Kindle e-readers, Amazon announced Silk, a new Web browser powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and available exclusively on its new tablet.
  • Amazon Silk is an important part of the Kindle Fire pitch, and as a “split browser” exclusive to the tablet it “gets the heavy lifting done on its EC2 cloud servers and promises faster access as a result,” reports Engadget. “Dubbed Silk to represent an ‘invisible, yet incredibly strong connection,’ it takes advantage of Amazon’s existing speedy connections, and that so many sites are already hosted on its servers to speed up Web access.”
  • Amazon’s cloud-accelerated browser may have some technical implications. First, Amazon may release a Silk desktop browser. It’s reliance on Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure may cut off access to the Web for customers during outages. That said, if Amazon succeeds, it may push other browser developer such as Google, Apple and Microsoft to follow. Mozilla may have a difficult time doing the same.
  • From a privacy perspective, Amazon talks about learning from “aggregate traffic patterns,” but in reality each Kindle has its own Amazon ID. Thus, Amazon will be able to track your personal Web habits, buying patterns and media preferences in detail.
  • “Until the Kindle Fire ships, there are more questions than answers,” suggests ReadWriteWeb. “I’m eager to get hands on a Fire so I can test out Silk and see for myself how it works. I’m not yet concerned about the privacy issues, but I do think they bear watching. What do you think? Is the Silk model something you’re excited about, or is Amazon a middle-man you’d rather do without when browsing the Web?”