• Mozilla : Five Walled Gardens

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    #2481199

    Why Browsers are Essential to the Internet
    and How Operating Systems are Holding Them Back

    ..This report has two purposes: first, to present Mozilla’s research (both recent surveys and
    years of knowledge) into consumer interaction with browsers. Secondly, to highlight the
    foreclosure of browser engines and independent browsers by operating systems..

    Examples of consumer harm from operating system
    self-preferencing

    • Limited or frustrated choice – an operating system provider making it difficult
    or impossible for a consumer to switch browsers ultimately removes their ability to choose for themselves. It also hampers existing competitors and deters
    new products from entering the market and providing increased choice.
    • Lower quality – where the monetary price for consumers is zero (as is the
    case for browsers) providers might be expected to compete on quality. But
    without effective competition from independent browsers, consumers may
    receive products which are lower quality.4
    • Lower innovation – linked to quality is innovation. Consumers miss out on
    developments (for example, improved features and functionality). And a reduced likelihood of disruptive innovation might be accompanied by reduced
    choice for consumers.
    • Poor privacy – consumers can be left with a product which subjects them to
    compulsory data sharing, misuse of data or other privacy harms. These outcomes can be an indication of low quality caused by ineffective competition.
    • Unfair contracts – without proper choice, consumers may be forced to enter
    into contracts which might be exploitative or unfair..

    .

    * The article name Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft as the ‘Five Walled Gardens’

    • This topic was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by Alex5723.
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    • #2481210

      The linked pdf is 66 pages long, is there anything startling in there that we didn’t know or guess already?

      Windows 10 Home 21H2, Acer Aspire TC-1660 desktop + LibreOffice, non-techie

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2481336

        Except for reading Mozilla’s whining (with its 3% browser market share) not much is new. Yet, it is interesting to read Mozilla’s view on the browsers world.
        Mozilla tried in the past to bring Firefox OS smartphones and failed. These smartphones came with Firefox pre-installed.

        • #2481376

          These smartphones came with Firefox pre-installed.

          I use Firefox on my Android phone, a Samsung Galaxy S21 5G.  As a result, all of my bookmarks are preloaded, as well as all of my extensions.  I can watch YouTube videos without ads when I’m waiting on/for something at some business/professional’s office/etc.  I can use DuckDuckGo as my search engine, and stay away from Google.

          Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
          We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do. We don't all have to do the same things.

    • #2481365

      As quoted by Alex:

      Examples of consumer harm from operating system self-preferencing

      • Limited or frustrated choice – an operating system provider making it difficult
      or impossible for a consumer to switch browsers ultimately removes their ability to choose for themselves. It also hampers existing competitors and deters
      new products from entering the market and providing increased choice.
      • Lower quality – where the monetary price for consumers is zero (as is the
      case for browsers) providers might be expected to compete on quality. But
      without effective competition from independent browsers, consumers may
      receive products which are lower quality.s with what it calls “medical-grade” hearing enhancement.”
      • Lower innovation – linked to quality is innovation. Consumers miss out on
      developments (for example, improved features and functionality). And a reduced likelihood of disruptive innovation might be accompanied by reduced
      choice for consumers.

      I imagine that operating systems could have built-in such limitations.
      But I don’t know of any for computer users.
      Maybe this is about some of those “iThings”?

      I don’t get the “low quality” point.

      I actually welcome less innovation these days, as it seems to come often from hyperactive people than just can’t leave well enough alone when it comes to many things, in this case browsers.
      Because: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
      (Wiser words have never been spoken as a colloquial common place.)
      Or “improve” it, if it is already fit for purpose.

      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

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    • #2481388

      Maybe this is about some of those “iThings”?

      iThings are part of ‘5 walled gardens’ yet you can install Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge..on iThings.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2481435

        But all of them must use Safari’s rendering engine (AppleWebKit). They are just different frontends for the same rendering backend you get if you stick with Safari. It’s about the only part of Mozilla’s criticism that is really valid.

        Certainly Android is somewhat similar to Windows of the early 2000s, where in each case the dominant OS maker bundles their browser, which also happens to be the dominant one in its market. Unlike Microsoft, though, Google has not, to my knowledge, made any attempt to restrict the ability of OEMs to preinstall another browser in addition to, or instead of, Chrome. Samsung preinstalls their own browser rather than Chrome, if I am not mistaken.

        Even so, Chrome is still the default option on many or most Android devices. Does this give Chrome an unfair advantage over Firefox, as Mozilla suggests? The linked article uses a lot of statistics based on survey results to show that many people never think about which browser they are using, or that they would be unable or unwilling to do so if they even wanted to. This includes users on the PC platform, which means Windows to most people.

        Windows now comes with Edge by default rather than IE, and has for seven years now, but still the large majority of Windows users use Chrome as their browser. Edge market share is reported by Statcounter to be pretty minimal (though still higher than Firefox!), even though it is the preinstalled default on most desktops, and even with all of the “nudges” mentioned by Mozilla to get people to use Edge instead, Chrome prevails. In this case, the dominant OS maker on the platform has its own browser, but most people on that platform don’t use it.

        One of two things has to be happening here. Either the OEMs have chosen to install Chrome on a lot of PCs, negating Mozilla’s assertion that unfair contracts between the OS provider and the hardware OEM prevent that kind of thing, or most PC users do think of what browser they are using, and are willing and able to install one.

        The only one that is really restricted is Apple. It’s the rendering engine that is the important bit when it comes to what Mozilla was discussing, not the UI built around it.

        Sorry, Mozilla, but it is not unfair bundling or OS restrictions that have pushed Firefox almost off the board when it comes to market share. If you want to know who to blame for that one, look in the mirror. You’ve missed the plot for most of a decade now, where it has been your idea that if you make Firefox as much like Chrome as possible, you will lower the barriers to migration, and eventually people will start coming over to Firefox. That did not work when you had 30% market share, and it has not worked for any of the years between that point and time and the present. Despite the obvious failure of that strategy, you inexplicably cling to it even after all this time.

        The prevailing point of view at Mozilla seems to be that people want to migrate from Chrome to Firefox, but are prevented from doing so by some barrier. The Firefox development strategy has been based on the notion that confusion over a different UI than people are accustomed to is the reason people don’t migrate. This article is another example of that same kind of thinking, where now it’s restrictions from Microsoft or Google that are throwing up barriers to all those Chrome users who really would rather use Firefox.

        The problem with this strategy is that Mozilla has chosen to go after the users who are most happy with Chrome, not the users who are itching for something different and better (formerly Firefox’s core user base). They are trying to get those users who think Chrome is an ideal browser to migrate to Firefox by making Firefox into something that those Chrome lovers will perceive as “just as good” as Chrome.

        No matter how Chrome-y they make Firefox, it will never be as Chrome-y as Chrome itself. People are not going to migrate to something because it is “just as good as” what they are using. If Firefox is just as good as Chrome, that means Chrome is just as good as Firefox, so why bother to switch? Why would people go for the copy that strives to be a knock-off of Chrome when they are already using the real deal?

        Mozilla’s idea has been that people will come to Firefox for the privacy benefits, but most people clearly do not care. The biggest data slurper in the world makes the most popular mobile OS and the most popular browser in the world. There are a handful of dissidents like me, but we are massively outnumbered by “normies” who just don’t care.

        On top of that, Mozilla has bungled the whole idea that they are better than Google when it comes to privacy. A series of ham-fisted incidents has convinced many of those who do care about privacy that Firefox is just as bad as Chrome. The iRobot tie-in that looked like malware, the fallout from Mozilla performing experiments on people’s browsers, the focus on political matters that have nothing to do with Firefox, the Pocket tie-in and the way it was mishandled, the controversy over the massive salary increases to Mozilla’s CEO Mitchell Baker as she presided over Firefox’s decline to irrelevance, and the way that Mozilla has summarily dismissed the concerns of its former user base while going after those Chrome users it will never have, have all served to diminish trust in Mozilla, and when one does not trust Mozilla or its motives, its “opt-out” telemetry and the sponsored content in Mozilla’s default home page (and the other monetization attempts) looks too much like Google or Microsoft. It’s not even close, and it would not be a bad thing if Mozilla found some revenue sources that were not Google, but they have seldom missed an opportunity to mishandle the messaging.

        I like Firefox and very much want it to survive and thrive, but I have often wondered if Mozilla even wants to be in the browser business. It often looks like they are trying to scuttle it.

         

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, Kubuntu 22.04, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, Kubuntu 22.04, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed

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        • #2481467

          Samsung preinstalls their own browser rather than Chrome, if I am not mistaken.

          As mentioned in a previous reply, I have a Samsung Galaxy S21 5G.  It has the Samsung browser, but also the ability to easily disable it.  I installed Firefox;

          As a result, all of my bookmarks are preloaded, as well as all of my extensions.

          No matter how Chrome-y they make Firefox, it will never be as Chrome-y as Chrome itself.

          Firefox serves me well for all my browsing needs.  I’ve never used Chrome.  The closest I get to Google is YouTube (with restrictions), and a few throw-away gmail accounts under fake names that I use for registration at sites that require it.  I never use gmail for email or any other purpose.

          … its “opt-out” telemetry and the sponsored content in Mozilla’s default home page (and the other monetization attempts) looks too much like Google or Microsoft.

          DuckDuckGo is my home page, and my extensions don’t allow any monetization attempts.  The only ads I ever see are in the Microsoft News app, and they are easy to ignore.  I don’t see ads at any of the sites I visit using Firefox.

          I was pleased, though, when Edge went full-Chrome, because that allowed me to completely uninstall it with Revo Uninstaller.

           

          Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
          We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do. We don't all have to do the same things.

          • #2481692

            As mentioned in a previous reply, I have a Samsung Galaxy S21 5G. It has the Samsung browser, but also the ability to easily disable it. I installed Firefox;

            Indeed. The point I was trying to make is that Google has not made Chrome mandatory for OEMs preinstalling Android in the manner that Microsoft once made IE mandatory for all Windows installations.

            Firefox serves me well for all my browsing needs. I’ve never used Chrome.

            I never used Chrome either. Firefox is my browser too; I am using it now to write this. But there can be no doubt that Mozilla has been trying to make Firefox as much like Chrome as possible. They moved to a six week rapid release schedule, like Chrome had, ditching their own minor-major version scheme that had releases come out when they were ready, not on a fixed temporal schedule. They moved the tab bar to be above the URL bar, like Chrome, when the norm for Mozilla browsers had always been to have the tab bar under the URL bar. They ditched the menubar by default and went to a hamburger button on the right side of the URL bar, and the menu that appears when that button is pressed is more or less identical to that of Chrome. They even dropped their native XUL addons in favor of Chromium’s addon model.

            There were also many minor changes, like the elimination of the unread tab state (since Chrome doesn’t have one) to removing the pref to not select-all when the URL bar is clicked (since Chrome doesn’t provide that option), and so on. Time and time again, when a change appeared in Firefox, one could look back in Bugzilla and see the discussion about why the change was implemented, and you’d always find some variation of “That’s how Chrome does it,” which was usually the only statement needed to end the debate.

            DuckDuckGo is my home page, and my extensions don’t allow any monetization attempts. The only ads I ever see are in the Microsoft News app, and they are easy to ignore. I don’t see ads at any of the sites I visit using Firefox.

            I use DDG for my primary search (fallback to StartPage when DDG fails), and I never see any ads either. The point was that Mozilla did try to monetize their browser, by putting sponsored content in the default home page (which the user could disable), by having a paid promotional tie-in with “I, Robot,” by having a paid tie-in with Pocket, and so on.

            I don’t have a problem with Firefox trying to find funding sources other than Google (which provides ~90% of it), but having telemetry on by default while monetizing the product as much as possible looks way too much like what MS is doing with Windows. MS can get away with doing it without worrying about the optics because they own the desktop market, but Mozilla can’t. They handled it poorly, and a series of other missteps (like giving multimillion dollar raises to their CEO even as their market share dropped to a rounding error, and alienating much of their remaining user base with unnecessary political remarks) have blown the trust they could have, and should have, had.

            When the trust is gone, no one is going to believe it when Mozilla tells them that Firefox is the more private choice. They’ve been lied to before, and the shady-looking behavior of Mozilla looks a lot like the behavior from some of the liars. There are are privacy-boosting browsers that don’t carry as much baggage. They are based on Chromium, which makes it a no-go for you, as I recall, but a lot of people don’t have a problem with it being developed by Google (including me. I dislike Chromium browsers because of technical issues and the desire to prevent one rendering engine from dominating the web, but i have no issues with it being developed by Google in and of itself).

            Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, Kubuntu 22.04, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed
            XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, Kubuntu 22.04, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed

        • #2481568

          The prevailing point of view at Mozilla seems to be that people want to migrate from Chrome to Firefox, but are prevented from doing so by some barrier. The Firefox development strategy has been based on the notion that confusion over a different UI than people are accustomed to is the reason people don’t migrate. This article is another example of that same kind of thinking, where now it’s restrictions from Microsoft or Google that are throwing up barriers to all those Chrome users who really would rather use Firefox.

          There ARE barriers from Microsoft or, I really hate to say this, from SOME websites. If I have Fx 102.3 ESR use MY CHOSEN Link colors THIS SITE is completely screwed up. Most sites though are fine THESE DAYS (but not in the past) with MY link colors. This problem has existed on some sites since I got my first computer in 1999 and immediately tried to get rid of the garish “Microsoft blue” link color on IE 4. I had to avoid IE because of that garish blue that would quickly bring on a migraine headache. I used Mozilla Suite as my default browser instead.

          After all these years, why do SOME websites still refuse to honor user’s link colors ON FIREFOX AND FIREFOX PORTABLE? Link colors here were honored on Basilisk which was forked off Fx 52.9 ESR. Basilisk is, sadly, no longer kept up to date so I don’t use it.

          I can choose my link colors in Fx 102.3 ESR settings and they are NOT honored here if I choose “only when using High Contrast themes”. I don’t use High Contrast themes as it is the COLORS used for links that bother my eyes not regular Fx themes having poor contrast. So, to get MY chosen link colors used at this site on Fx 102.3 ESR I am forced to choose “ALWAYS”. That choice completely screws up the proper rendering of this site (and some others) but far fewer sites today get screwed up. It’s a shame that a great tech site like this one has this problem if one is using current Fx or Fx ESR versions.

          If you love vertical tabs, Fx is the best browser. I’ve used vertical tabs beginning with the first Fx extension which was actually for Mozilla Suite called Tabbed Browser Extensions back around 2002 before Fx. So, while Brave handles my link colors with zero problems, I can’t find a really good extension for it for vertical tabs. Edge handles my link colors fine also but it too does not do vertical tabs well. Plus, Microsoft seems to be so deaf to this issue even today that it has REMOVED any ability to choose your own link colors in Edge! This must have happened in a recent update. Evidently, I retain the personal color selections I made for Edge quite awhile ago but if I wantes to change them there appears to be no way to do that in the latest Edge. So absurd. Something so extremely basic as what link colors are used in a browser, yet browsers today, and websites today including tech oriented ones, can’t be bothered to allow this choice to users unless the user wants a completely screwed up browser on lots of websites because they choose “always” use my link colors.

          • #2481569

            I couldn’t add screenshots to the above using crappy Edge as trying to do so froze everything on the screen except items in the system tray. Luckily, I was able to delete the frozen screenshot and could then post this above comment. Stupidly, I tried again to add a screenshot and everything on the screen froze AGAIN. Edge is a MESS and so are most of the browsers. The one with the least problems (EXCEPT for user chosen link colors is Fx ESR latest version).

            Geez….I thought in a new comment I would be able to add screenshots. Nope. Immediate and complete freezing of the screen when I clicked on “select file” except for items in the systray and Edge was using an obscene amount of power. Sigh. I don’t want lots of new tricks for different browsers, etc. I just want a browser that always works correctly and hasn’t had important elements that have been around for eons removed.

            • #2481571

              I switched to Fx. Hope it won’t freeze.

              This screenshot shows my soft, yet beautiful and easy to read, link colors in effect here. But the site renders terribly if I have my link colors set to “Always”. If I set them to “allow websites to override my choices” then this site’s display ignores my choices on an erratic basis …usually honors one but not the other…so visited links might use my color choice but unvisited does not or sometimes vice versa. Sigh.

              Fx really is the ONLY choice. It has lots of problems but it doesn’t freeze everything on the screen repeatedly or do other very irritating things.

          • #2481633

            Users doesn’t flock to Firefox with its miserable 3% (about 200 million users) and web sites won’t bather putting any special efforts for support.
            80% of smartphone users use Android with Chrome, Gmail, Google search…so they use the same on desktops and have no intensive to switch default browser…

          • #2481695

            That’s a different issue. Those are issues with websites and the way they are rendered in different browsers, not barriers to installing or using browsers other than the one that comes with the OS.

            Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, Kubuntu 22.04, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed
            XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, Kubuntu 22.04, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed

        • #2482018

          Thanks for that Ascaris. This is why I use Pale Moon. FF is not worth any consideration at this point. At this point some of the plethora of Chrome based browsers is better than FF. ANd as you noted Mozz execs got big salaries to over see the demise of FF. 😰

          🍻

          Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
    • #2481430

      Report says, “The word “browser” is a misnomer.” then uses the word 513 times. 😕

      Windows 11 Pro version 22H2 build 22621.608 + Microsoft Edge/365

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      • #2481697

        It may be a misnomer, in their opinion (which I disagree with; browser is just fine as a term), but it is still the name for what Firefox is.

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, Kubuntu 22.04, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, Kubuntu 22.04, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed

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    • #2481756

      80% of smartphone users use Android with Chrome, Gmail, Google search…so they use the same on desktops and have no intensive to switch default browser…

      Yep. ALL ARE SLAVES. It’s sad and a very dangerous situation as the foundation of democracy is at stake.

      I BLOCK for twenty years now ALL Google stuff.

      I find it hard to believe that Apple only has 20% of the cell phone market as you claim.

    • #2481811

      I find it hard to believe that Apple only has 20% of the cell phone market as you claim.

      Apple has 50%+ smartphone market share in the USA, but ~20% world wide.

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