John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Samsung Buddies Up With Mozilla on New Android Browser Tech

Bosom-BuddiesHere’s an odd pairing: Samsung and Mozilla are collaborating on a software project.

The two companies said today that together they are developing a new browser engine for Android and the ARM architecture. Called Servo, the engine will be written in Mozilla’s new Rust programming language, optimized for multi-core computing and, in the words of Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich, designed to cast aside “old assumptions” about how a browser engine should work.

An interesting project, but a more interesting alliance. What is Samsung, the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile devices running Google’s Android OS, doing collaborating on a mobile Web browser with Mozilla, which in case you’d forgotten is also hard at work on a mobile operating system? Samsung shipped 215.8 million handsets last year, and pretty much all of them ran Android. And with them it captured nearly 40 percent of the global market for smartphones, according to IDC. Given that, why is Samsung bothering with Servo, an alternative to Android’s built-in browser and Google’s Chrome?

The most likely explanation: This is one more hedge against the company’s big bet on Android. It’s no secret that Samsung’s dominance of the Android device market is straining the company’s relationship with Google. And the company’s heavy reliance on Android could become problematic once Google starts really leveraging its Motorola Mobility acquisition. As much as Android has been a winning platform for Samsung, it’s also a vulnerability. With that in mind, the company has already begun diversifying away from Android by making devices powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS and co-developing with Intel an entirely new mobile OS called Tizen. This new alliance with Mozilla is just an expansion of that effort.

“Samsung’s partnership with Mozilla … diversifies Samsung’s reliance, at least as much as possible, on Android,” Rajeev Chand, managing director at boutique investment bank Rutberg & Co., told AllThingsD. “Samsung continues to have a strategic weakness in its reliance on an ecosystem that the company does not own.”


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik