Web technologies giant Mozilla has announced a controversial plan to begin introducing paid advertising into its widely-used Firefox web browser.
The advertisements would appear on the Directory Tiles screen, a grid of nine shortcut buttons that appear when a user first opens a new window or tab.
In a statement, Mozilla’s vice president of content services, Darren Herman, defends the move, saying it will improve the user experience for first-time users.
“Currently, if a new Firefox user opens a new tab… Their tiles – those nine rectangles that populate over time with the most frequent and recent websites they visit – are empty. The new tab page isn’t delivering any value for them.
“Directory Tiles will instead suggest pre-packaged content for first-time users. Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission.
“The sponsored tiles will be clearly labelled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy.”
Aside from paid advertising, Mozilla has also announced the rollout of another new cloud-based feature, called Firefox Accounts, which is designed to make it easier for Firefox users to sync bookmarks across multiple devices.
In a statement, Mozilla’s services engineering vice president Mark Mayo says the new feature will be initially rolled out to users of the “Aurora” pre-release version of Firefox, before eventually rolling out into the regular version.
“When we started building Firefox OS we knew we’d learn a lot about how the Web would need to evolve to become an even better mobile platform.
“We’re introducing Firefox Accounts as a safe and easy way for you to create an account that enables you to sign in and take your Firefox with you anywhere. With Firefox Accounts, we can better integrate services into your Web experience, like the new Firefox Sync.
“Firefox Sync enables you to take your browsing data like passwords, bookmarks, history, and open tabs across devices, just as it always has. But now we’ve made it even easier to setup the service and add multiple devices, while still delivering the same browser-based encryption.”