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Mozilla backs Facebook's mobile web standards push

Smartphone browsers and in-app spending should be simpler

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MWC 2012 Open-web-loving Mozilla is backing Facebook's move to bring together smartphone-makers, carriers and developers to sort out standards for mobile internet and mobile app payments.

The social network announced at Mobile World Congress that it has joined the snappily-titled W3C Mobile Web Platform Core Community Group along with over 30 others, including handset-manufacturers like Samsung and Sony, carriers such as AT&T and Orange, and developers like Zynga and Electronics Arts.

The aim of the group is to try to improve and standardise mobile browsers so that developers can make apps more easily, a goal which Mozilla is also on board with.

"Facebook relies heavily on HTML5, CSS, and JS. Facebook has no browser in the market to pull focus or inject asymmetric browser/service integration agendas," Mozilla co-founder and chief technology officer Brendan Eich said on his blog.

"And Facebook has hired long-time Open Web developers who have risen to be leaders in their communities: James Pearce and Tobie Langel.

"So I encourage everyone interested in helping to join with James, Tobie and others in the new Core Mobile Web Platform community group. Together we can get the specs that web developers deserve, completed in the right order with multiple interoperating implementations."

Both Mozilla and Facebook emphasised that they wanted to hear from developers on what browser capabilities they wanted to see and what their priorities are.

While it's in the partner-making mood, Facebook is also working on sorting out payments in mobile web apps.

"We're working with operators around the world to minimise the number of steps needed to complete a transaction in mobile web apps, which will make it easier for hundreds of millions of people worldwide to purchase apps on their device via operator billing," Facebook said in a canned statement.

Although both of these endeavours sound quite noble and in the spirit of the open web, they're probably also in the spirit of making a bit of extra revenue for Facebook.

After all, the social network currently has 425 million mobile users, according to its IPO filing, although it's not making a whole lot of money off them yet. Standard mobile web browsers could help Facebook develop slicker apps, along with the possibility of some in-app advertising.

And that IPO filing also revealed the funds that Facebook is pulling in from app-makers like Zynga, so helping people to spend money within apps would probably add a little extra to the piggy-bank as well. ®

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