Mozilla sets its site on mobile standardization
Mozilla itself has a number of projects that could help with its goal. Mozilla employs about 570 employees, and about 1,000 active code committers.
One project is BrowserID, which uses the browser as a mechanism for verifying the user's identity. Once users verify their email address, that address can be used to log in to different sites, with the browser providing the password automatically. BrowserID works like OpenID, except that the email address, rather than a Web address provides the authentication.
"BrowserID is the lynchpin for open Web apps," Eich said.
Despite this work, Mozilla still faces difficulties in getting handset makers and phone carriers to go along with the approach, Eich admitted.
"It's still too expensive to develop mobile hardware. The phone's hardware is still a little too expensive, so the companies that build their phones have to lock their users in to vertical silos, and to keep the user relationship to make more money to recoup their investments," Eich said.
Much of Google's Android is open source, so Mozilla engineers can work intimately with the OS in that case. Other platforms, such as Apple's, are more closed. Browser makers would also have to grapple with individual device component drivers, which are usually difficult to work with.
"For some reason, Apple and Google for Android are not interested in standardizing these device APIs," Eich said. "There is secret sauce from Apple. There is secret sauce in Android to get at these devices."
Nonetheless, as issues around individual device APIs are raised, such as security, device makers will be forced to disclose the inner workings of their mobile OSes. Mozilla already offers the capability to work with geospatial data, thanks to security issues raised around that technology, and will soon offer more capabilities tied in directly to device based cameras.
"There are no Web standards at hand [for mobile devices]. We're going to change that," he said. "We're going to expose Web APIs in all these devices and standardize them in a fair way, so they can be in all the browsers."