April 3, 2013

Mobile Patents

It seems as though Samsung is now in the practice of building their own browser engine, and they’ve teamed with Mozilla to do so. Mozilla is planning to implement its new Servo browser engine, which is reported to take advantage of the ARM architecture. As any owner of a Samsung ARM Chromebook will be able to tell you, the ARM architecture presents some challenges, but the browser isn’t one of them.

The Next Web notes the browser engine is built with Mozilla’s code language, Rust, and is meant to rebuild the web browser “from the ground up on modern hardware, rethinking old assumptions along the way.” A very interesting approach, but we’re left to wonder why.

Rust, which is Mozilla’s new programming language, is very early in development — it’s only on version 0.6 right now (seriously, it was released this morning). Samsung has no intrinsic need for a browser, and ARM architecture is RISC, which is nothing exotic. The operating system is much more important, and the report suggests Samsung is simply providing the ARM infrastructure so Mozilla can cross-compile to Android.

Our immediate reaction is this is a case of more Samsung proprietary activity, and the browser engine is just another step in distancing themselves from the competition. Mozilla, however, strikes a curious note here. The company is clearly keen on releasing a Firefox OS for mobile, and utilizing any resources for a browser engine seems strange. Firefox (powered by Gecko) is also currently available for Android.

While Chrome (powered by WebKit) clearly dominates Android, Samsung could be making a play for a Tizen-friendly competitor here. We won’t know until it comes out, if it ever does. We’re curious, though: would you want another browser, or are you comfortable with what you’re using?

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