Pro and Con of Mozilla's Pocket integration in Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 23, 2015

The native integration of the third-party service Pocket in the Firefox web browser by Mozilla was certainly one of the most controversial topics in recent time when it comes to the browser.

Overshadowed only by the launch of the new Australis interface, the integration was discussed heavily on many Internet sites including ours.

Pocket is a read it later web service that registered users can utilize to save web articles and content to access it at a later point in time. It is like bookmarking but not limited as much in many regards.

The integration in Firefox brings the service to the browser. It is displayed by default in the Firefox interface (on upgrade or new installation), and requires an account before it can be used.

firefox pocket integration

Mozilla's official stance on the integration is that Pocket is a popular useful service that can easily be disabled by users who don't want to use it.

Pocket has been a popular Firefox add-on for a long time and we’ve seen that users love to save interesting Web content to easily revisit it later, so it was an easy choice to offer Pocket as a service in Firefox and we’ve gotten lots of positive feedback about the integration from users.


Directly integrating Pocket into the browser was a choice we made to provide this feature to our users in the best way possible.

Lets take a look at pro and con arguments for the integration:

Pro Pocket integration

  1. Firefox users discover the service easily thanks to its native integration.
  2. The integration makes it as simple as possible to use Pocket in Firefox natively.
  3. The service itself is useful to some users of the browser.

Con Pocket integration

  1. Users who don't want to use Pocket need to remove it from the browser or ignore it.
  2. While Mozilla's implementation may be open source, Pocket itself is proprietary.
  3. Pocket has been available as an add-on before that users could install.
  4. Pocket's integration is not opt-in. It is likely that the majority of Firefox users are not interested in Pocket.
  5. Mozilla is working on Reader Mode which it could easily improve to add read it later functionality to it natively without relying on third-party services.

If you look at the pro arguments, you may notice rather quickly that Mozilla could have selected a different method of integration. For instance, instead of integrating Pocket natively in Firefox, it could have displayed a notification to users advertising it. Users could then decide whether to install the add-on or not.

Or, Mozilla could have deployed Pocket as a browser add-on directly instead. Firefox users could then remove the add-on easily if they did not need it.

Mozilla is about choice, as the organization notes, but it did not give users of the browser any choice when it integrated Pocket natively in it. Firefox users who did not want to use Pocket had to remove it manually from the browser. Mozilla has not published statistics about the use of Pocket in Firefox but it seems likely that only a minority of users are making use of it.

Pocket feedback on Mozilla Input has been overwhelmingly negative (92% sad) in the past 90 days.

While it is certainly true that the organization should not bombard users with prompts for every new feature or change in the browser, it should do so for major changes, especially if the majority of Firefox users are either indifferent to them or objecting them openly.

One option that Mozilla could explore would be to use User Voice or a similar service to get user feedback prior to making changes to the browser to find out if making them is welcome by the majority.

Now You: How should Mozilla handle major Firefox changes in the future?

Pro and Con of Mozilla's Pocket integration in Firefox
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Pro and Con of Mozilla's Pocket integration in Firefox
A pro and con list of the integration of the Pocket service in the Firefox web browser.

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  1. Hemen Kapadia said on December 28, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I have been a longtime Pocket user and really like the old interface. The new integrated UI is not so seamless. I wrote a blog post to re-enable the old Pocket extension on latest Firefox. This also disables the integrated version.

  2. Joao Santos said on July 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    > Pocket feedback on Mozilla Input has been overwhelmingly negative (92% sad) in the past 90 days.

    It’s worse than that even most of the “happy” feedback is also against pocket:

  3. Colin B said on June 27, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I have found a Firefox extension which turns off Pocket, Reader, Hello and WebRTC bloatware

  4. Alex said on June 24, 2015 at 6:19 am

    I use Pocket from long ago but i see absolutely no reason to integrate it into the browser.

  5. Samdell said on June 24, 2015 at 3:40 am

    Big issue over a piddling little thing but if it bothers people that much, use Light. It’s a browser exactly the same as firefox so all extensions, addons, etc work but is a stripped down version that is memory efficient and very fast. About the only feature some may miss is Firefox Sync. It is basically Firefox Light and open source

  6. Billy said on June 24, 2015 at 2:30 am

    1. Firefox users discover the service easily thanks to its native integration.
    could of easily done it with one of there new placeholder tiles in about:newtab

    2.The integration makes it as simple as possible to use Pocket in Firefox natively.
    it was simple with the addon without bloating firefox

    3.The service itself is useful to some users of the browser.
    just because some like it doesn’t mean it should be forced down everyone’s throat.

  7. tena said on June 23, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    One more con argument (mostly copying and pasting my comment from the first Ghacks post about Pocket):

    The existing pocket add-on already worked very well. One button to Pocket a page and a toolbar button to view a quick dropdown list of items in Pocket. The only “news” in the new Firefox version is that the Pocket they have bundled lack the quick dropdown. To view items we now have to click the bookmarks button, then a new pocket button and the list loads, slowly, in a new tab. It now takes 8 times longer to access the list and requires three times more clicks. And still that is portrayed as a new exciting feature by Mozilla. Weird, just weird. It feels like no one at Mozilla who was responsible for this change have themselves been using Pocket very much. I’d love to hear anyone from Mozilla explain their thinking on these this one.

    “5. Mozilla is working on Reader Mode which it could easily improve to add read it later functionality to it natively without relying on third-party services.”

    I’m not so sure about that. A big advantage with Pocket is its cross-browser support. I browse with Chrome on Android and use Pocket to share links with Firefox on the PC.

    1. El Goopo said on June 23, 2015 at 11:26 pm

      The Reader Mode already worked in nightly builds, but it’s disabled because it’s not done yet. There’s nothing stopping Mozilla from finishing it, even with Pocket integration. They can also allow easier integration with other reading list services, proprietary or otherwise. The devs simply rushed out Pocket integration before anything else because it was easiest at the time.

      1. Guest said on June 27, 2015 at 6:22 pm

        @El Goopo:
        Reader Mode is enabled by default on my Nightly. One click and I can enter reader view.

  8. ams said on June 23, 2015 at 4:44 pm
    Reply is touted as a “technology news” site. This article contains zero NEWS. It’s more like a “haven’t anything else to write about, so dredge up something from 3 weeks ago, some topic which generated plenty of kneejerk twitch-n-moan commentary” ploy. Sad.

    1. RichInIowa said on June 23, 2015 at 5:08 pm

      yet you took the time to read it AND comment…. having a bad day?

      1. RottenScoundrels said on June 23, 2015 at 7:28 pm

        Ummmm, OK, let me think this through.

        Pocket is a Commercial addon
        FFx takes money from Google/Yahoo etc for default Search Engine
        FFx doesn’t take money for Pocket

        Yeah, I can see where that makes sense! Silly me.

      2. dev said on April 14, 2018 at 11:29 am

        pocket is a VIRUS , developed by FIREFOX ,delete firefox as soon as posbl

  9. RottenScoundrels said on June 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Um, doesn’t pocket sound like “Save Page as” which stores the entire current page and images etc.

    Surely the developers could have just extended that functionality that has bee there since about ffx-3. Just put a button on the toolbar.. Oh, wait, they wouldn’t get paid to force pocket into the addons. Silly me.

    Moot anyway, as of a few months back, I am using PaleMoon, gotta say it is about 10-times faster than the ffx-v38 I finally got rid of.

    1. tena said on June 23, 2015 at 4:56 pm

      AFAIK Mozilla doesn’t get paid to integrate pocket into Firefox.

  10. pd said on June 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    The answer to this situation is pretty simple: Mozilla can bundle as many add-ons as they like by default. Users can disable them as much as they like just like any other add-on. Saves users having to delve into less user-friendly aspects of the system, relying on blogs like this one, to figure out what obscure blend of settings needs to be waxed in whichever way to reverse the change. Saves users having to find and configure the best add-ons in the most effective way.

    That Mozilla is flipping all over the place with it’s policies can be explained very easily: market share trend has been going in the wrong direction for way too long e10s is very late and until it arrives, Mozilla can’t even make a convincing argument that Firefox is a credible choice as it lacks feature parity.

  11. Earl said on June 23, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Before this I’d never heard of Pocket. There are plenty of other features I don’t use, but their being there doesn’t especially bother me. I’m just as happy to ignore it (and them). On the other hand I like and use devtools and couldn’t live without sidebars (an original feature). Still, I doubt Pocket will be worth keeping as a feature unless a huge number of users take advantage of it. I mean, it’s not like it’s Australis or anything. I expect it’ll work out not even as well as Panorama (which is to say, not at all)… just another code stub that’ll atrophy over time.

  12. Sven said on June 23, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I would not consider this a major change cause a major change should be something important, and Pocket is way too unimportant. It is a major annoyance cause it gives a majority of people something that only a minority uses and that is exactly *not* user-friendly. They don’t need to ask, it’s much easier, make things like Pocket or Hello optional as an extension (with a separate download). Therefore their browser has an extension system and it’s plain stupid not to use it.

    1. Tom Hawack said on June 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Even if a majority used Pocket it still wouldn’t be a valid reason to integrate it as such (opt-out when it should be opt-in). Gosh, are we to legitimate a process on the basis of majorities or on that of respect due to all, minorities included?!

      1. El Goopo said on June 23, 2015 at 11:22 pm

        But by your logic all new features should also be opt-in, right? Even ones like Pocket that are disabled by default (aside from adding a button to a toolbar to activate them).

  13. Bing Slammer said on June 23, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Since a large portion of Firefox users immediately install adblock, why not integrate that too?

    1. Guest said on June 27, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      @Bing Slammer:
      Maybe because Adblock is deprecated? Integrate Ublock Origin if you must integrate something.

    2. El Goopo said on June 23, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      They are, with the Tracking Protection feature.

    3. Jeff said on June 23, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      I imagine that would piss off Yahoo, who I believe Mozilla is currently partnered with. And if you have say 50% of your users installing AdBlock, by making integrated you’d raise that number to 100%, which I’m sure Mozilla’s partners would not like.

    4. Tom Hawack said on June 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      Because there are other anti-advertizement tools than AdBlock, and far way better : uBlock, leader of the band. But the idea remains invalid, IMO

      Generally speaking I dislike — to put it mildly — integration with browsers of whatever tools/services : 1- “a large portion of Firefox [or whatever browser]” remains a portion, 2- We are not babies to be fed as such. The trend is and remains : “let us do the hard work for you”. accepting this is a denial of self-responsibility, but also a potential risk to have the service/tool ad one day or another a feature we would dislike. I say and repeat : tools/services are to be opt-in extensions or plugins, but never imposed. “Integration” is a dangerous word on the Web (and maybe everywhere) : live and let live.

    5. wybo said on June 23, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Good point. No Script has more than 2 million users. Why not integrate that.

      1. Sven said on June 23, 2015 at 12:52 pm

        Why not integrate the complete Top10 of extensions and Top 5 themes?

  14. Tom Hawack said on June 23, 2015 at 10:26 am

    1- Pocket (browser.pocket.enabled = true by default) should be opt-in (false by default) ;
    2- Reading List (browser.readinglist.enabled = false by default) should be attached to Reader View and not to Pocket ;
    3- Reader View (reader.parse-on-load.enabled = true by default) runs nicely.

    There are 2 schemes which are half integrated and this is nonsense :

    Reader Mode includes Reader View and Reading List ;
    Reader View is independent but Reading List requires Pocket when it is in fact logically related to Reader View

    Why does Mozilla make things so complicated?

  15. joder said on June 23, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Set “browser.pocket.useLocaleList” to false as well

  16. dan said on June 23, 2015 at 9:53 am

    The Mozilla Firefox implosion continues, making it more and more difficult for fans of the browser to stay on board. At some point, the various FF forks (Cyberfox, Pale Moon, etc.) will collectively overtake market share from FF itself.

    1. El Goopo said on June 23, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      Don’t kid yourself. The day that happens is the day all of those forks die too. People love to hate on Mozilla for adding buttons or taking options away, but without them all that’ll happen is that Firefox-based browsers will die and then we’ll all just be bitching about some other browser.

      1. Nebulus said on June 24, 2015 at 1:51 pm

        LOL, you are kind of right :)

  17. jimbo said on June 23, 2015 at 9:27 am

    How to remove Developer Tools ? never use it.
    How to remove Side Bars ? never use it.
    How to remove Tab Groups ? never use it.
    How to remove Print ? never use it.

    Great new Firefox income resource … charge people to remove function.

    (Who IS that girl? and the video link ?)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 23, 2015 at 9:57 am

      Jimbo, I have no idea who the girl is but it seems to be one of Mozilla’s promo videos as it appeared when I launched Firefox.

  18. Inderjeet said on June 23, 2015 at 9:01 am

    I have browser.pocket.enabled set to false and it still appears in the bookmark menu. I will never use it. I just want it gone off my bookmarks menu. Whats a mess! Don’t enable this by default. What addon can I download to disable it????

    1. NoName said on June 23, 2015 at 9:29 am

      Hey Inderjeet,

      you first have to set browser.pocket.enabled to true and restart Firefox. Now you will see the Pocket-Icon next to the url-bar, right-klick on it and choose “remove from menubar” (or so) from the context-menu. This is the only way to remove Pocket entirely from the Firefox interface, it will remove Pocket from the toolbar, the bookmarks menu and from the reader-mode menu. Afterwards you can still switch browser.pocket.enabled to false.

      Edit: Martin was quicker xD

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on June 23, 2015 at 9:06 am

      The way you get rid of it is different. First, you need to re-enable it using the preference. Once done, customize the browser interface and remove Pocket from the Firefox toolbar. Once done, set the preference to false again.

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