Mozilla retires Firefox’s sponsored tiles, hunts for new revenue streams

By | Ars Technica

Way back in 2014, Firefox rolled out an unpopular feature to its nightly builds: sponsored tiles on its “new tab” page. The feature, which was opt-in by default, showed ads that were based on your browsing history. Eventually, after a very long beta testing period, the sponsored tiles were loosed upon all 500 million-or-so Firefox users in May this year.

Now, just a few months later, the feature is being retired. Sponsored tiles will continue to appear for the next few months while Mozilla “fulfils its commitments” (i.e. clears out ad inventory), but then they’ll be gone entirely. Writing on the official Mozilla blog, vice president Darren Herman explains that, “advertising in Firefox could be a great business, but it isn’t the right business for us at this time because we want to focus on core experiences for our users.”

Later in the blog post, which was probably published on Friday afternoon in an attempt to dodge the news cycle, Herman repeats the refrain that we’ve heard many times over the last few years: “We believe that the advertising ecosystem needs to do better … Mozilla will continue to explore ways to bring a better balance to the advertising ecosystem for everyone’s benefit, and to build successful products that respect user privacy and deliver experiences based upon transparency, choice and control.”

In the meantime, Herman says that Mozilla wants to “reimagine content experiences and content discovery in our products.” As for what these reimaginations might look like though, we have no idea. Firefox did recently launch on iOS, however, so that’s something. Instead of sponsored tiles, maybe the new tab page will somehow suggest new sites for you to visit, based on your browsing history and category selections? Kind of like a mini in-browser Reddit?.

Firefox’s targeted sponsored tiles always seemed a little out of place for a browser that is essentially predicated on free, libertarian ideals. You can’t exactly blame Mozilla for trying, though. Since its inception, Mozilla has been entirely reliant on revenues from search engines. For years, Google paid Mozilla hundreds of millions of dollars to be Firefox’s default search engine. In recent years, Mozilla has diversified its search engine defaults—Yahoo is now the default in the US, Yandex in Russia, and Baidu in China—but according to its 2014 financial report, 98 percent of its revenue still came from these search engine deals. If something dramatic causes those deals to fall through, Mozilla does ideally need another way of making money.

Speaking of which, just like Wikipedia, Mozilla’s annual donation drive is currently live: when you open up Firefox, you’ll be greeted with a screen that asks you for a donation. If you want to donate money, but the plea doesn’t appear in your browser, you can donate directly on the Mozilla website.

Nvidia looks to ease plummeting Tegra sales with LTE 4i devices in early 2014

In a recent financial report, Nvidia says its fourth generation Tegra 4 sales have dropped dramatically in Q3 2013. Tegra revenues have plummeted 54% relative to last year’s numbers, according to the company. Nvidia’s CFO Colette Kress relates the drop in Tegra sales numbers directly to lower volume shipments of the Tegra 4.

The company is losing ground to Qualcomm, who has a commanding hold on the high-end Android space. Even though Tegra 4 will be onboard Microsoft’s Surface 2 and with a large portion of Tegra chips servicing the automotive industry, the lack of sales from the Android market is really taking its tole on the company\’s Tegra business.

However, there does appear to be some good news here. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has announced that the company’s LTE hybrid Tegra 4i chip will appear in devices revealed early next year and would ship in the second quarter of 2014 at the latest. The less powerful 4i is aimed at the mainstream mobile market and will likely help the company\’s mid market sales numbers.

While AT&T has now already certified the upcoming 4i, Nvidia will turn its focus to the Tegra 4 until the new LTE edition makes it debut. After HP made use of the chip with its 21-inch Slate, according to reports Huang mentioned that he sees it appearing more regularly in full size and desktop devices, as well as continuing its push into the automotive sector and other tablets.

via Nvidia looks to ease plummeting Tegra sales with LTE 4i devices in early 2014 – TechSpot.

HDD revenue to fall 11.8% in 2013, WD may bump Seagate for top spot

Industry analyst IHS iSuppli expects revenue generated by sales of mechanical hard drives to slip by 11.8 percent during 2013. HDD sales in 2012 grossed a healthy $37.1 billion during 2012, but a speculative 11.8 percent drop could whittle that figure to roughly $32.6 billion. Revenue is expected to remain flat during 2014.
The firm attributes stronger SSD sales and HDD “price erosion” for this year’s weaker revenue projections. However, iSuppli recognizes mechanical hard drives will remain dominant for some time though, as they continue to deliver the highest possible storage density at the lowest cost per gigabyte when compared to the competing alternative — SSDs.
During 2011, an unfortunate series of floods ravaged South Eastern Asia. As a result, storage manufacturers wrestled with supply and production difficulties which in turn led to skyrocketing prices — drives more than tripled in price. Since their stratospheric apex in 2012 though, those sticker-shocking prices have been steadily returning to Earth. Despite sliding prices though, the overall cost of hard drives has remained higher than pre-flood figures across numerous makes, models and capacities.
Interestingly, iSuppli also believes Western Digital could possibly usurp Seagate as the number-one hard drive manufacturer worldwide. The firm speculates that WD’s helium technology — a feature acquired through its acquisition of HGST — could give the California-based drive-maker a palpable advantage over long-time rival Seagate.
While HDDs may struggle a bit in 2013, iSuppli foresees a far grimmer scenario for makers of optical drives and related media. The disappearance of optical drives from ever-shrinking laptops and computers alongside the world’s increased reliance on cloud-based alternatives will ensure optical storage technologies continue to languish throughout 2013.
via HDD revenue to fall 11.8% in 2013, WD may bump Seagate for top spot – TechSpot.