Monday, February 24, 2014

Firefox "Directory Tiles" Controversy

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Recently, Mozilla, a non profit software group unveiled plans selling ads in Firefox soon to diversify its revenue whose major source of income is from search engine giant Google for clicks from users of Firefox's built-in search box.

On first start of the browser there are empty nine rectangular tiles with a quick link to "Welcome to Firefox" webpage by default which is replaced thereafter by the most visited sites. But Mozilla is planning to introduce pre-packaged contents with ads that fill that space  which Mozilla has called as "Directory Tiles" viewable for about 31 million uniques per month. Directory Tiles are a mixture of Mozilla links, popular websites based on the user's geographical location, and sponsored contents. Though this feature is not too different from some other popular browsers like Opera & Safari, critics have been saying that the step could ruin trust towards firefox which has always building software with end user in mind and has history of handling third-party cookies.The news has hit the tech groups a lot this week. Mozilla says “Directory Tiles” will  improve the "first-time-with-Firefox experience" and also help Mozilla become more sustainable by generating some extra income. Up to now, the top most browsers, google chrome and firefox aren't too embarrassing by advertisements until add ons are installed but because of this move, firefox has made uniques "If you don't know how to browse, click on ads to know" state which they’re explaining as just giving the customers what they need to use the web more efficiently. 

Yes, the step would reduce dependency of Mozilla Foundation on Google for revenues but if the user experience get decreased from embarrassing ads on first use, this would definitely not be trustworthy thing for the foundation. The Directory Tiles seems to be "take and give" rather than "give and take" which is more efficient in internet marketing. Thats why also the advertising strategy cannot be compared to blogs or sites to some extent. One thing it should keep in mind that firefox "aren't left with monopoly like there was one in the days of Internet Explorer" which has browser usage share of 19%.

I just found a funny post on the ONION  titled "Compromising Company's Values for Advertising Revenue Referred to as 'Partnering" oh I can't stop to laugh. And one thing, what will happen if the browser's history is cleared? Will it show ads again?

As Mozilla has not made clear on from when the feature be launched. Hope the foundation makes reasonable decision without degrading finest web browsing experience and annoying users.

Written By Raju Dawadi
Raju is a Computer Engineering student in Nepal, tech and social media enthusiast, web developer, blogger experimenting with SEO and web analytics.


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