This product vision statement is intended to guide the evolution of Firefox over the next couple of years. It will be updated and refined as we discuss and collaborate, so will be a work in progress. All are encouraged to give feedback and help us build software that realizes this vision. Feedback and questions can be added to the discussion page.
The future of the browser
As the Web meets new challenges and opportunities, Mozilla's mission is more relevant than ever. The next generation of innovation on the Web will be anchored by a browser that is an honest broker committed to the interests of the individual user and developer, providing amazing experiences that match those offered by proprietary platforms; and user control and developer reach and freedom that is superior to proprietary platforms. As Firefox has transformed the browser landscape before, it must do so again.
People seek to regain more control over their online lives and expect more nuanced and contextual relationships with other people, websites and applications -- to share what they want about themselves on their own terms. Developers seek a more direct connection with their customers, more cross-platform reach, and independence from gatekeepers.
More and more of the devices in our daily lives are connected to the Internet. Firefox has always been available for major desktop operating systems, but for many devices, Firefox in its current form -- client software with the Gecko Web rendering engine -- will not be feasible. Yet the experiences it offers should be available everywhere. The future browser will therefore be delivered in many ways, sometimes as client software, sometimes as a Web-based service.
Mozilla is uniquely positioned to deliver experiences that put the needs of the user first, above profits and above exploiting their personal data. Mozilla is the only organization in the world that can credibly deliver a browser that meets this opportunity. The world needs us, and expects us, to lead the way.
Product vision statement
The product vision statement for Firefox comes in two forms. The complete statement is:
Discover, experience and connect with apps, websites and people on your own terms, everywhere.
The shorter version omits important parts, but will be a more effective shorthand as the things it omits become implicit in everything we do:
Discover, experience and connect on your own terms.
What does the vision statement mean? How does it relate to what we're building, and should build? Does it help us to prioritize and make decisions? Let's break it down.
Discover, experience and connect
Our interaction with today's Internet follows a pattern. We discover websites, content, apps and people of interest in many ways. We then have some sort of experience with them, sometime shallow (quickly scanning a news article or reading a status update), sometimes deeper (sharing information about ourselves with them, contributing content, connecting with others). These deeper connections augment and amplify the experience and often lead to discovery by others, and the cycle begins anew.
A primary role of the Web browser has been to provide "Web navigation" tools for people -- to help them "navigate" to known websites by typing URLs, and clicking links to discover new things. The role of "discovery" -- finding, often serendipitously, new websites and content, has largely been taken over by search engines and by social interactions -- receiving links from others through multiple channels. In the realm of apps and people, the browser has evolved little to help users with discovery. Discovery of the new is also increasingly driven by advertising.
Firefox will act on the user's behalf to enable discovery on the user's own terms. It will transition from a "tool for navigation" to a more active participant in understanding user intent, and be an "honest broker" that helps make discoveries without regard to commercial interests.
Firefox will fundamentally rethink the role of the browser in discovering websites, apps and people. To enable this, we will look for the opportunities made possible by being alongside each person who travels the Web to understand more about intent and personal preferences. We will enable more enjoyable discovery, serendipity and inspiration by taking advantage of the Start page, new tab page and other user touchpoints that are under-utilized.
Top priorities on the Discover roadmap are:
The role of Firefox in assisting the user in successfully executing a search has not materially changed in several years. Search is the most popular implementation of taking a user from intent to information or an activity. The browser can, and must, do more.
Firefox will enable app discovery (using a broad definition of apps to include extensions and personas). This could be through stores, directories, through the browser detecting app availability, and content advertising app availability.
Social is increasingly important in how we navigate the Web. We are told of specific content, sites and apps that others believe should be of interest to us over many channels: in email, social networks, instant messaging, SMS, print. Firefox should capture the source and communication channel of inspiration where possible, and combine it with that user's travels on the Web to gain an understanding of who that user trusts and can then aid in future discovery.
When the user interacts with a website or app, the experience can only be as rich as the capabilities offered by the underlying platform. We will develop a deeper real-world understanding of what developers are trying to build and build great support for those things into the Web platform. We will rationalize and simplify how the browser organizes and presents websites and apps, taking into account different device form factors and operating system user interface conventions. Finally, we must enable (building some and partnering for others) the full set of tools that developers need.
Top priorities on the Experience roadmap are:
Web platform capabilities
Web developers need to easily build experiences that are cross-platform - they should work in major modern browsers, including smartphones and tablets. They also need key capabilities expected by today's website and app developers: Multi-touch, notifications, audio and video, real-time communications, beautiful typography, 2D and 3D graphics, and more.
Apps experience on desktop and mobile
Once they've been discovered, how are they presented, organized and launched? How does the app experience differ from the webpage experience on desktop and mobile? Can we simplify the ways in which we organize and track the webpages and apps we use (history, bookmarks, tabs, windows, tab groups, etc.)?
The whole lifecycle of building, testing, debugging, deploying and managing applications needs to be competitive with that of building native apps, deploying them to today's app stores, and managing them over time.
The browser should play a role in the major ways that we connect online today: how people connect with other people; how people connect with websites and apps; and how developers connect with the people who use their websites and apps.
The Web browser has provided limited support to sharing your discoveries, insights and inspiration with others. This leaves it to each website and app to determine how you want to communicate, and with whom. It leads to inconsistent experiences and unsafe practices of sharing social network and email account information. The browser is a natural place to be able to follow and share: we receive links in many applications, only to launch them in the browser (on mobile, often a temporary embedded browser widget, which prevents that item from being included in browser history, etc). We don't track who we've received items from, and from what channel. Firefox can play a key role in how we connect with each other.
Connecting with sites and apps - sharing information about ourselves
People share information about themselves with websites and apps. Ideally, we would share only the information that the website or app needs to do its job, and only that which we feel comfortable sharing in that context. The browser can play a powerful and consistent role in mediating data exchange on behalf of the user.
How developers connect with their customers
Developers have gotten a lot of well-known benefits from the app model, but it has also driven a wedge between them and their customers. Gatekeepers decide whether their apps and/or content is "worthy", take a significant portion of revenues, and . Firefox will promote an app ecosystem that enables developers to connect directly with their customers, subject to our principles of user control.
On your own terms
What does it mean to Discover, Experience and Connect "on your own terms?" It means that when a user discovers, experiences, and connects with websites, apps and people using Firefox, they have more control over their experience than with any other browser; that it's personalized without requiring them to share more than they would like to; that it protects their privacy and security; that they control their online identity, including what information about themselves they share with sites and people.
Personal, comfortable and fun
Firefox allows personalization with add-ons and personas. It should also leverage browser history to infer intent, which remains personal to you and your browser, as opposed to shared with large entities by default. And it's important that the end result of all this is fun and satisfying.
Mozilla must lead the way to an identity system that is under the user's control, independent of any particular service provider (though it may leverage existing identities in many ways). Users should be able to share information about themselves selectively and easily, rather than sharing a lot about themselves to receive little in return.
Privacy by design
Mozilla has already articulated principles including No Surprises, Real Choices, Sensible Settings, Limited Data and User Control. Delivering software that's guided by these principles is critical to discovering, experiencing and connecting on your own terms.
Firefox is now available for the major desktop operating systems and Android. People are now accessing the Web and apps from many different types of devices running different OSs. To significantly affect Internet life in the future, we will have to deliver value on major OSs, whether we are allowed to ship our own browser engine or not. Smartphones and tablets are where the next billion People will expect their personalized experience to be available to them anytime, anywhere.
Firefox on Android
Android will clearly be a dominant OS over the next several years. Firefox should have significant impact on the Android platform.
Provide a Firefox experience on major platforms
Where we aren't able to provide our own Web engine, we still can and should help people live online life on their own terms. We will explore Web-based and other architectures to provide a Firefox experience to people on major OSs, including iOS.
Give people access to their personal experience, anywhere
With Sync, Firefox has taken its first step toward providing a personalized experience from multiple devices. As people access the Web from many places, they will need and expect their personal experiences to be available everywhere.