Samsung teams up with Mozilla for new Android browser


While Google and Samsung continue to dominate the smartphone landscape, thanks to Android and the ultra-popular Galaxy devices, there has been some amount of friction between the two. It could be attributed to Samsung’s brand growing bigger than Android or the fact that Google buying Motorola has put Samsung on alert.
So what is Samsung doing collaborating with Mozilla on a new browser? Mozilla’s CTO Brendan Eich announced on the open source foundation’s blog that it has teamed up with Samsung on an advanced technology Web browser engine called Servo.

Eich calls Servo an attempt to build a browser for the new Web from ground up. He added that the browser based on Servo will run “on modern hardware.” The post also stated that the new browser will address chief concerns among users. “This means addressing the causes of security vulnerabilities while designing a platform that can fully utilize the performance of tomorrow’s massively parallel hardware to enable new and richer experiences on the Web.”

Samsung and Mozilla’s collaboration could be bad news for Google

The new browser will be optimised for multi-core computing and Servo will be written in Rust, a safe and fun language developed by Mozilla along with a growing community of enthusiasts and Samsung.

This is an interesting match-up indeed. Mozilla, if you will recall, has been hawking its own open source Firefox OS and Samsung famously denied wanting to launch a Firefox phone just after Mobile World Congress in February. Samsung is also heavily invested in the open source ecosystem thanks to its work with Tizen and of course, Android. Given all this, the question does arise as to what is Samsung’s intention behind the new collaboration.

The obvious theory, and one which many would float forward, is that this is yet another way for Samsung to hedge its bets against Android. The Korean company’s dependency on Android could become an issue once (or if) Google starts really leveraging its Motorola Mobility acquisition. The alliance with Mozilla could just be Samsung’s way of moving away from Chrome and Google’s default browser on pre-Jelly Bean phones.

However, there is another possible reason behind Samsung’s move. As we saw during the launch of the latest flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the company is trying to shift focus from only hardware development, which remains its core business, and look at the software side of things as well. Samsung’s big focus with the Galaxy S4 was the TouchWiz features that come with the phone, more than the hardware. As the room at the top gets smaller for hardware bragging rights, it only makes sense for big-name OEMs to differentiate themselves from the rest by offering something unique software-wise.

For Mozilla, the alliance with Samsung is a way to get a deeper foothold in the mobile market. By aligning with the market leader, it has increased the profile of its own efforts for mobile development as well as for its Firefox OS. Eich pointed to this fact in the post. “This is an exciting step in the evolution of both projects that will allow us to start deeper research with Servo on mobile. We, along with our friends at Samsung will be increasingly looking at opportunities on mobile platforms.”


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