weavelogo.jpgMozilla recently launched a new online service called Weave. Weave allows you to store settings and other data so that it can be used across multiple devices. For example, you can save your personal bookmarks in Weave (it is saved on a Mozilla server), and then recall them when working on a different PC or even a cellphone.

Weave serves as a buffer between the Internet and a user’s desktop, and is Mozilla’s first step into offering online services. In addition, the project focuses on personal user information, a first for Mozilla.

In Weave, user data is first pushed into the “cloud.” The data is known as “metadata,” consisting of things like bookmarks, web history, passwords, preferences and customizations. Users can also share access of this information to friends or other third-parties. If grandma is having trouble with the settings of her browser, you could relay your settings to her using Weave.

Weave is an open framework. Mozilla currently plans release an API for Weave, allowing outside developers to build applications for it. Mozilla’s Firefox browser has been successful partly due to add-ons that developers create for integration with the browser.

User trust in the safety of their personal information with Mozilla is pivotal to the success of Weave. Mozilla says it has organized the product around privacy: It requires client-side encryption by default before you can use Weave. In addition, all data stored on Mozilla servers is encrypted again.

The focus on privacy is relevant, given that other players, such as Facebook and Google have come under attack recently after privacy concerns. Traditionally, syncing and data services have been the domain of large commercial conglomerates such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. The budget and resources of these companies far outdo that of Mozilla, however, Mozilla possesses a key advantage over these corporations. Mozilla is viewed as a neutral party, and arguably is less likely to attempt to commercialize the data its stores on its servers. This perception could serve it well.

Over time, Mozilla hopes to develop Weave into a social platform that encourages open collaboration between friends, families, and third parties.

Weave 0.2, which is set for an early 2008 release, will let users delegate and revoke access to their data.

Weave can be used only with the latest Firefox 3 Beta 2 release. Mozilla’ popular browser, along with a powerful email client, may help push distribution of Weave. Mozilla says it is actively pursuing other methods with which it can blend “the desktop and the Web through deeper integration of the browser with online services.” Mozilla envisions establishing itself as a gateway between the desktop and the web.

Gabriel Ikram is a contributing author for VentureBeat.

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