Friday, December 11th, 2009
According to The Register, Mozilla may soon build a marketplace for add-ons:
Mozilla has said it will “probably” open a marketplace for Firefox add-ons sometime next year.
Add-ons product manager Justin Scott (reluctantly) announced the news this morning at an add-on-happy conference in Mozilla’s home town of Mountain View, California. “We’ll probably be doing a marketplace pilot in 2010,” he said.
Scott did not provide details. But earlier in the morning, he did say that Mozilla has no intention of using DRM – not that you would have expected anything else. “I don’t know what we’ll do, but we won’t do DRM,” he said.
It wouldn’t be too surprising to see Moz bolt in a payment model to the existing add-on repo, which already has a review process. Of course, once you start paying developers to build add-ons, many more add-ons will need to be reviewed and Mozilla will have to make tough decisions about to what extent add-ons will be reviewed, if at all, and what kind of charge, if any, will be imposed on add-on providers.
There are already some browser extensions that come with a price tag. This happens in both IE and Safari, both browsers lacking a vibrant extension community; and it also happens with Firefox, where there is a vibrant community of typically free, open-source, extensions.
An add-on marketplace would formalize the payment model and add a big incentive for developers to build seriously useful add-ons, given the possibility of reaching a market in the hundreds of millions. The flipside is that we might no longer see free versions of some of our favorite add-ons. Given its open-source DNA, it might be nice to see a “donate” button beside any of the free offerings in the store. (Update: Ryan Doherty points out in the comments there’s already an add-ons contibution feature, pilot launched in July.)
It’s also interesting to consider how an app store might open up a marketplace for new types of add-ons. For example, if you see the browser as a convenient sandbox to drop small desktop apps into, we could end up with simple games and utilities which might otherwise be released as shareware. Print-on-demand might be another application.
This is all hypothetical for now, but it’s still fun to speculate on what could become of AMO!
Posted by Michael Mahemoff at 10:59 pm