Mozilla Beyond The Browser

Brendan Eich (JavaScript)
Location: Conference Room E Level:
Tags: browser
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 6 ratings)

Lately many of us using the Web find that we are treated as “product” as much as customers. Our data, including clicks and other expressions of intention, belong to impersonal entities surveilling us from near and far.

Meanwhile, on smart phones and tablets, application API, plugin, and even website content lock-in or “tying” appear to be making come-backs, reversing a decade-long trend toward highly interoperable browsers, cross-platform plugins, and content languages. The cross-platform interoperability trend on the desktop arguably started with Mozilla, accelerated with the rise of Firefox and the launch of the WHAT-WG (which created HTML5) in 2004, and peaked with Chrome. The reverse trend on mobile devices may be arrested by HTML5, but not quickly — HTML5 is not slated to be done until 2020.

Mobile devices come with full stacks tied to cloud services, often using proprietary protocols. Mobility raises privacy challenges while demanding integration of people in the browser and even in apps. Yet social networking is also typically locked into silos with non-interoperating identity, communications, and content systems.

Mozilla was founded to preserve choice and innovation on the Web via open source, open-standards-based products with enough market share to matter in both standards bodies and web developer communities. We achieved this goal with Firefox.

But our higher-order mission was and remains to keep the user sovereign over personal data, self-expression, and user-experience on the Web. If we succeed at any particular endeavor serving this mission, you should never feel owned or abused, as you were using IE after the death of Netscape and prior to Firefox. Moreover, we believe that the Web should be open to innovation – at all levels of protocol discourse – from the edges, not only from the central gate-keepers.

So we find ourselves bound by the following logical progression in the current world of rising mobile OS and user data lock-in:

  • Our mission obligates us to make the user sovereign and continue to keep the Web open and innovative.
  • The rise of mobile computing requires new explorations, projects, and products to fulfill our mission.
  • Mobile browsers and apps require always-available (cloud) services, for continuous user experience and to avoid data coffins.
  • Higher-layer services today, particularly for mobile, apps and social networking, pull away from open and user-as-sovereign, toward closed and user-as-product.
  • So our innovations to advance the mission must expand up the stack, from HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, to mobile, apps, and identity, always putting users first and in control.

I will present and demonstrate some of our new initiatives:

  • Firefox Sync, the Awesome Bar, and the future of search and discovery in our view.
  • A decentralized, usable identity system, BrowserId (, which can be used to take your apps and data with you from desktop to mobile.
  • Open Web Applications that run on any device and can be distributed through any store or directly by the developer (
  • An early Boot To Gecko (B2G) prototype. B2G is a fully open source smart-phone/tablet OS that uses HTML/JS/CSS for all of its UI and device control.
Photo of Brendan Eich

Brendan Eich


Brendan Eich was founder and long-term CTO at Mozilla. He also served as SVP of engineering and briefly as CEO. Brendan is widely recognized for his enduring contributions to the Internet revolution. In 1995, he invented JavaScript (ECMAScript), the Internet’s most widely used programming language. He cofounded the project in 1998, serving as chief architect, and has been a board member of the Mozilla Foundation since its inception in 2003. Brendan helped launch the award-winning Firefox web browser in November 2004 and Thunderbird email client in December 2004.

Brendan holds a BS in math and computer science from Santa Clara University and an MS in computer science from the University of Illinois.

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