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How Paid Apps On Firefox OS Will Work 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the garden-without-walls dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla has put up a blog post about how building a paid app will work for Firefox OS. The Firefox Marketplace will host web apps, and Mozilla is quick to point out that the apps won't lock you into Firefox OS. They will use the receipt protocol, which other devices can support. If they end up doing so, users could buy the app just once and run it anywhere. 'There is, of course, a chicken vs. egg problem here so Mozilla hopes to be the egg that helps prove out the decentralized receipt concept and iterate on the protocol. Mozilla invites other vendors to help us work on getting receipts right so that paid apps are as portable and "webby" as possible.' Mozilla has a JavaScript API for exposing device receipts, and a client-side library can then contact a verification service URL from the receipt." Somewhat related: a recent panel at Mobile World Congress consisted of representatives for Firefox OS, Ubuntu for Phones, and Sailfish OS. They spoke about the need for alternatives to Android and iOS, and how manufacturers and carriers actually seem eager to use these new operating systems to differentiate their products
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How Paid Apps On Firefox OS Will Work

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  • What are they going stop piracy, since it's all HTML and JS?

    Does it mean that's it's trivial to copy paid apps and send them to your friends?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "A Web Application Receipt is a portable, verifiable proof of purchase token.. The Web Application Receipt is implemented as a digitally-signed JSON data structure."

      I imagine you could tie in the purchase token as a means to run the application.
      • Re:DRM? (Score:5, Informative)

        by schneidafunk (795759) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @05:27PM (#43028353)
        Correct, here is the validation documentation: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Apps/Publishing/Validating_a_receipt [mozilla.org]

        "A usual time to validate is when the user starts the app."
        • by Dahamma (304068)

          Except that it's almost totally useless because there is no validation that the receipt is tied to a user! If you want to try to prevent that you have to implement your own server proxy, at which point the whole concept of a centralized Firefox marketplace becomes kind of redundant.

          "Even if you validate receipts for your paid app, it can be pirated if someone passes around the receipt. The receipt validation methods given above do not prevent this. If you want a better defense against piracy, you might wa

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Good luck competing if you can't guarantee developers will make anything on their apps...

            Okay, your post was fine until this.

            NO app store ANYWHERE has EVER guaranteed that developers will make anything on their apps! That would be insanely stupid! A malicious developer could make a million retarded apps and if approved, they would *have* to make money, due to that guarantee! The app store would go out of business in a heartbeat!

            • by Dahamma (304068)

              Yeah, duh. You are being completely, pointlessly pedantic. Obviously we are talking about some *reasonable* attempt at anti-piracy here, and it refers to apps that people install on their devices and use, not free apps and not apps that no one uses.

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Bimbo Newton Crosby, this is even easier to crack than your average video game DRM and will be totally pwned 5 minutes after being put up as all it takes is one guy posting the key and then everybody has it for that app.

            Of course this points to a deeper problem which is "Can you have F/OSS and get paid for your work if you are a programmer?" and I would argue that the answer to that is NO unless your skills fit into the "blessed three' which so far has been the ONLY reliable ways to make money while still b

            • by Dahamma (304068)

              1.- Selling service/support, 2.- selling hardware, and 3.- The tin cup. that's it, that's why despite all those triple A game engines that keep getting donated you'll never see a F/OSS game the quality of Bioshock, because games don't fall under the blessed three and therefor you won't be able to survive. This is why every F/OSS game either has graphics that could be done on an N64 with cycles left over or is yet another DM/CTF Q3 Arena ripoff, because those can be cranked out without nearly the amount of work as something triple A quality.

              I mostly agree, except there is quickly becoming a #4 in that list (though you could try fitting it into #1a if you squinted) - microtransactions (see the EA article posted today). Of course, that also requires significant server support and a LOT of upfront risk to assume people will download your game for free and pay you for extra features.

              Honestly I hope that does NOT become a viable business model for AAA games, since it's an intrusive and annoying interruption from the potential immersiveness of a go

              • by hairyfeet (841228)

                Actually I would put that under "tin cup" since if a game is truly FTP then one doesn't have to buy just to play. If it is "pay to win" then frankly it should be looked at as fraud in my book, you are telling players they can play "for free' but then once they have time invested springing the trap.

                That is why if you are gonna add that crap I'd say either do it like Saints Row 3 or Borderlands. With SR 3 you could play the whole game just fine without buying the crap but the crap added to the 'fucking off fa

              • #5 Kickstarter or crowdfunding generally.

                Ok, you could also fold that into #3 if you push hard enough, but the difference is you're not paying for something you already have, but for something that doesn't exist yet, that you'd like to see created. Don't know if there's been any triple AAA level games funded this way, but I like to think it could happen.

                • Also ... #6 Merchandising! Works for Angry Birds and probably a few others I can't be bothered to think of at the moment.

                  Granted, it wouldn't work for most games, and is something you can get only if you're really really lucky and not something you can rely on when developing the game, but still ... it could theoretically work out for a FOSS game if it was super popular.

                • by Dahamma (304068)

                  True - and I don't know if it will be strictly "AAA" (though that is a somewhat subjective term, unless the definition just involves amount of money spent making it) - but the Double Fine Adventure project might be close...

          • The proxy server can check the receipts, IP addresses and other things. The server might do something like notice if the same receipt was coming from different IP addresses and take appropriate action.

            Which is a great way to break things. I have two tablets, one regular phone, and one back-up phone (albeit I haven't used the latter in a long time.) Google Play (and the Amazon app store) do not require I buy the same software four times to use it on all four devices. They tie the information to an account,

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        "A Web Application Receipt is a portable, verifiable proof of purchase token.. The Web Application Receipt is implemented as a digitally-signed JSON data structure."
        I imagine you could tie in the purchase token as a means to run the application.

        yea, so fucking what? ever thought about changing the line to receiptReceived = true; doesn't matter one fucking bit if the receipt is signed or not for standalone apps - in that use case it hardly matters all if the receipt was signed or not, it's just a boolean that the developer must blindly trust that the user doesn't change.

        that was the point, that it's trivial to take the checks out of standalone apps on the platform. much more so than on android where it's pretty simple to begin with.
        so most of the p

  • by Anonymous Coward

    just what the world needs

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @05:18PM (#43028279)

    I guess there is some advantage to having a nonprofit organization active in this space...

    • by Qwavel (733416)

      Exactly. It's a breath of fresh air to see an announcement like this and discover that it isn't about locking me into their ecosystem.

      Hopefully Google (the only other player with a web app store - that I know of) will implement support for that 'receipt protocol'.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Amazon is another very popular vendor that could use this. Not sure they would want to though.

        Lots of little android app stores too.

  • DOA (Score:4, Informative)

    by tyrione (134248) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @05:33PM (#43028397) Homepage
    This experiment will be over in 9 months without a large infusion of capital.
    • Re:DOA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @05:42PM (#43028459) Journal

      You mean, like the latest Windows mobile offerings, which will be dead in nine months, even with a large infusion of capital?

    • by Tester (591)

      This experiment will be over in 9 months without a large infusion of capital.

      Good thing that Google is giving Mozilla $300 million/year then

      • by tyrione (134248)

        This experiment will be over in 9 months without a large infusion of capital.

        Good thing that Google is giving Mozilla $300 million/year then

        That's not large. That covers operations and salaries with current R&D.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Or 18 months with a large infusion of capital.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NoMaster (142776)

      You're forgetting this is brought to you by the Mozilla Foundation. It's a good feature, you will like it, and if you don't then you'll just have to get used to it because they're going to remove other features you actually use until you do.

      Seriously, I'm convinced those clowns would rather run the browser into the ground than admit they made a mistake...

  • Wouldn't you just collect money from your website when they try to access your web services and collect money from your site? I really don't understand how they can do this without a username and password. And it's not compiled code, you can just view source and capture everything. It's like people have forgotten that they have a web browser on their phone. The concept of the OS is good for certain apps, but it's only going to work if Apple, Google and MS use it too (which they won't).
  • My idea of a paid app for the FF OS is one which collects Underwear and advertising Cookies, stuffs the cookies in the underwear, wraps them in a 3D printed biodegradeable "plastic" wrap, and sells them at a profit.

    In other words:

    1. Underwear
    2. Cookies
    3. Package them ...
    5. Profit!

    Best part is it's green.

    Cause that's what the cookies and underwear look like by the time they get to the end consumer.

  • Not so fast (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JanneM (7445) on Wednesday February 27, 2013 @07:25PM (#43029229) Homepage

    "and how manufacturers and carriers actually seem eager to use these new operating systems to differentiate their products"

    One of those carriers is NTT DoCoMo. They will introduce a Tizen-equipped smartphone here in Japan in the near future. Win for open source, bully for you, champaigne all around, right?

    No. The reason they want to use Tizen is because Android is too open and out of their control. They can't lock down their Android phones more than they already do. They'd effectively have to dump the Google Play store and force people to only use their own curated store instead. But that means losing the other Google apps as well, and most of the apps people are expecting to find. That horse has long left the barn.

    With Android, NTT can't control what apps people can download and use; can't impose app-specific restrictions or extra bandwidth charges, and they certainly don't get a cut of the money changing hands for apps and services. They see a future where they just supply the communication pipes, and they are terrified of that.

    So, Tizen is their solution: An OS where they can completely lock down the phone, provide you with only the apps available in their app store, and take a hafty cut from both developers and users for the privilege of appearing there. A return to a time where you spent most of your time and all of your money in the provider's walled garden, not out on the open net.

    Which is why, for all that I love open source, I will never consider buying such a phone and will never recommend one to anybody. This is a play for closing down the mobile net, not opening it up.

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      Whether or not they can sell their solution in the way they would prefer to sell it, is of course another question. There remains a huge choice of unlocked phones which allows the user to go where they will and always remains the preferable recommended choice. Ego drives the purchase of high priced contract phones by offsetting but increasing the cost over time.

      It seems most larger companies want to be publishers rather than developers as that's were the real money is and high cost creative talent is not

    • Good summary of the real motivations of the carriers with these 'alternate' OS's. Those who can use unlocked phones may benefit from the growth of alternate OS's using vanilla OS builds and independent apps stores... But what I don't get is how these alternate OS's really 'benefit' the network providers (with aspirations to be more than that): Android can already be used outside of Google's dictate, you simply can't use Google applications or Store. But if you use some other entirely different OS, you also
    • If I understand you correctly, they don't want to provide a locked down Android because that means they'd have to create their own app store, so they want to go with Tizen and provide their own app store with it.

      I don't understand this.

      • by JanneM (7445)

        The difference is that now people expect an Android phone to have the Play store, GMail, Maps and so on. With a different system they can supply their own, separate apps and a locked-down store. Then they'll sell it on it all being specially adapted for Japan (with every app properly localized for instance), and being much more secure and easy to use for their users and so on.

        I didn't say it is a good idea - and I suspect it will fail - but it's a bit more subtle and a little less ridiculous than your summa

    • The problem isn't the OS. The problem is you're buying a phone from a service provider.
      You should buy phones from phone dealers, and services from service providers, never mix those things up.

      • by JanneM (7445)

        If there were any independent phone dealers in Japan, I would. But the only dealers here are the service providers.

        And up until recently, everything was completely locked; can't use a different SIM with your phone; can't use a non-company phone with your SIM. Lately it has loosened up a little. You can sometimes get your phone SIM unlocked for a fee (you need to say you're going on an overseas trip), and one type of DoCoMo LTE SMs will work in any phone - but you need a DoCoMo phone to buy that SIM in the f

  • Home/consumer software has been post-scarcity for a long time, why reject free software and try to stuff the genie back into the bottle? You want paid software to attract developers so there will be apps right? But there are already apps! Just skip to the last step. And when you provide such a platform developers will have an incentive to fill any gaps by releasing their own solutions as seen on Maemo.

    • Home/consumer software has been post-scarcity for a long time

      Including games? I thought games needed skills from multiple disciplines [pineight.com], some of which have not yet developed a mentality analogous to the free software movement. And how well has free accounting software been able to keep up with annual updates to tax codes in all industrialized jurisdictions?

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