Firefox maker Mozilla has shopped around and picked up Pocket, a bookmarking tool once called Read It Later, which is used to save articles for offline reading or content viewing at a later time. It's Mozilla's first acquisition.
Mozilla Pockets Pocket
Pocket isn't totally estranged from Mozilla, having originated as a Firefox extension some years ago before expanding its team and creating a suite of apps for nearly every platform available. Also, since 2015, Pocket has been Firefox's primary bookmarking service.
Pocket will continue operations as a Mozilla subsidiary. The company said that Pocket will help bring Mozilla to mobile devices, an area it has struggled to acquire foothold in. Mozilla is probably best recognized for Firefox, its web browser, arguably the most popular one until Google Chrome stole its steam.
Mozilla has since lagged behind in the mobile era, incurring years of development time for its misstepped Firefox phone project and waiting until very recently to release the iOS version of Firefox worldwide. The slow but continuous decline of web browser usage on the desktop platform also renders the company's future at odds.
Mozilla's purchase comes with 10 million Pocket users at present, alongside advertising opportunity for Mozilla, a premium subscription service, and on top of which analytics for publishers. More importantly, people seem to enjoy using it, as per a report by The Verge.
"We love the way that they have the user-first mentality, very similar to the way we drive our products," Denelle Dixon, chief business and legal officer of Mozilla, said.
Rebuffing Previous Evernote Offer
Pocket contemplated about an acquisition six years ago, when Evernote volunteered to purchase it, back when the company was still named Read It Later. Nate Weiner, Pocket's CEO, rejected the offer when it became evident that the company was to be subsumed as an in-app Evernote feature instead of a disparate product.
Pocket is a great app, but it's still unclear if it's also a great business, as noted by The Verge. With only 10 million monthly users, it's not exactly a force to be reckoned with, at least in the scale of mobile era standards today, especially considering that Pocket is an advertising-backed enterprise.
Cooking Up A Recommendation Engine
The acquisition won't have Pocket altering its business or products immediately, according to Weiner. Over time, Pocket will be useful in helping Mozilla with its "context graph," endeavor, which is a recommendation engine for the web that will be integrated into a browser. Pocket, similarly, is kind of like a browser per se because apart from the content users already save, friends or other people can give recommendations on what to view next or to read and watch. Collectively, over 3 billion pages have been stored in Pocket.
Pocket has the ability to make qualitative conclusions about an article's worth, of course, based on how many times a particular content has been saved, shared, viewed, and such. Maybe this points to what sparked Mozilla's interest — it's possibly aiming to take advantage of that algorithm for its conceptual recommendation tool and in turn roll it out to a larger user base than Pocket's.
What isn't clear is if Pocket will indeed bring Firefox back into a broader, widespread discussion among users both casual and pro who have nestled with Chrome as their choice web browser. Time, however, will tell.