Mozilla outlines why mobile is central to open web push - Mobile World Live

Mozilla outlines why mobile is central to open web push

24 OCT 2014

Mozilla is working to ensure people in emerging markets gaining first-time internet access on mobile devices don’t have their online experience dictated solely by global internet players.

Ben Moskowitz, senior director of development strategy at Mozilla, suggested that many people in emerging markets are unaware of what the internet can do and why it is relevant to them.

It is therefore important to encourage the creation of local content, and for people to have the tools to do this, as they did in the earlier days of the World Wide Web. “The culture of the web needs to survive in the mobile era,” he said.

“We think that’s important to make the web relevant and important. The way that people get connected is incredibly important,” he noted.

Mozilla is partnering with mobile industry association the GSMA to conduct field research in Bangladesh, India and East Africa. The research aims to find out how consumers in these markets regard the internet and how mobile can help them benefit from what it offers.

Illustrating the lack of awareness around the internet in these markets, Laura de Reynal, field research coordinator for the Mozilla Foundation, told a story of seeing two rickshaw drivers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, using a relatively high-end smartphone to play Angry Birds and listen to music.

After talking to the drivers, she discovered they were unaware that the device could connect to the internet and they had never needed to as all the content was preloaded onto the smartphone.

Alongside the field research, Mozilla has developed a prototype app that enables people to build web content and services that reflect their local interests and needs. The idea is that no coding is needed so anyone can create content via their smartphone.

Moskowitz told Mobile World Live that the hope is that a future version of the app could encourage some people to potentially learn digital skills such as coding, and ultimately prompt a few to go on to become internet entrepreneurs.

Mozilla’s efforts around the open web also extend to advocacy and education. As part of this, it is running MozFest in London this weekend, an event focusing on open web technology and how it can play a role in shaping the future of the internet.

Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, said: “It’s a pretty serious event and frankly a serious thing for the internet.”

Surman stressed the importance the online community — or ‘citizens of the web’ — in shaping the future of the web: “What Mozilla is about is striking that balance between independence, freedom and agency. My hope is that sense of freedom, independence and agency is something more people feel.”


Tim Ferguson

Tim joined Mobile World Live in August 2011 and works across all channels, with a particular focus on apps. He came to the GSMA with five years of tech journalism experience, having started his career as a reporter... More

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