Last.fm announced that they would be sponsoring a new music category in Mozilla's Extend Firefox 3 contest. The contest, which encourages developers to build add-ons for the Firefox browser, began on March 17th, 2008 and will continue until midnight on July 4th, 2008. This cycle of the contest will reward apps that take advantage of the new features in Firefox 3 as well as those that apps that are updated for Firefox 3, while also showing significant improvements in user experience and performance.Today, social music site
With the new Last.fm sponsored music category, developers are being encouraged to come up with innovative ways to integrate music and the browser. The add-ons submitted to the music category do not have to built with Last.fm to qualify to win. Although Last.fm hopes some developers will utilize their API and services, they stress that developers will not get "bonus points" for using their tools.
Why Firefox 3?
The folks at Last.fm felt that Firefox 3 offers many improvements over Firefox 2 regarding general navigation and performance, which will make it a better browser for across the board usage, music included. Specifically, though, new features like bookmark tagging and microformats could lend themselves to the development of great, next-generation music plugins.
Bookmark tagging lets you easily separate your links into categories. As with tagging on Last.fm, this could give you fine-grained control over your links, which could allow you to organize your links by music genre or type of music site.
Another new feature for Firefox 3 is native support for microformats. This functionality will be exposed to extension developers so they can take advantage of music-related microformats like hAudio and hPlaylist. Not only will this allow for new types of music plugins, but it should help spread the adoption of music (and other) microformats by publishers.
Of course, Last.fm is also likely betting on the fact that with the development of music apps for Firefox, more users will discover the Last.fm web site and services. Recently, the site launched a showcase of Last.fm apps, built using Last.fm's free tools at http://build.last.fm. This addition to the site added 19 million new users to the Last.fm user base as of January. A host of popular Firefox extensions could bring even more music fans to sign up for the service.
Currently, there are not many Firefox add-ons featuring Last.fm - a search on the add-ons site revealed only six. Meanwhile, on the build site at Last.fm, there were well over 100 apps. Developers looking for inspiration may want to consider starting there to find ideas.
The winner of the contest will be flown to the Last.fm office in London to meet the team behind the service and will attend a Last.fm/Presents live event as a guest of Last.fm. They will also receive a Logitech Squeezebox network music player.