10/20/10

Mozilla's Open Web App Platform is not a Store

Yesterday we published a tech preview of Mozilla's Open Web App Platform - both from a developer as well as an end-user perspective.

We received a lot of great feedback from the wider community, the developer community as well as the press (e.g. TechCrunch, WIRED or GigaOM among many others). The interpretation of our platform is mostly spot on - but sometimes way off when Mozilla's proposed platform is compared directly to app stores such as Apple's iTunes store or the Android store.

It is important to note that what we are proposing and building is significantly different from single, vertically integrated app stores. The platform at its core allows for web apps to be installed, managed and launched in any modern browser - and is agnostic to where these apps come from.

The manifest, which basically describes the app and is one of the central elements in our architecture, provides information about the source (the place from where you got the app - which can be the website from the developer herself, a directory or a store) as well as authorization and identity tokens. With this simple architecture in place, the platform allows for any number of self-published apps, directories and stores to co-exist. There is not a single, central repository of all apps - but a whole array of them.

What this means is - the Mozilla Open Web App Platform allows for an ecosystem which is similar to any other retail/ecommerce experience you know and essentially just like the Web: Anyone can publish any app without an obscure approval process on her own website. You can list these apps in directories or sell them through stores. Or you set up your own store if you wish. Apps become a good just like any other digital good - freed from a vertically controlled ecosystem.

If you want to learn more about our platform, watch this video from my colleague Lloyd Hilaiel, who together with Mike Hanson is the main developer and thinker behind this.