Firefox OS smartphones arrive: A fine mobile Petri dish

Summary:The mobile ecosystem continues to search for a real No. 3 platform. Why not Mozilla's Firefox OS?

Mozilla's Firefox OS smartphones will soon land via Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica, and the mobile open-source platform is worth watching — only to see if another player can make a dent in Android and Apple's iOS.

firefoxos

The mobile ecosystem is desperate to find a No. 3 platform. Windows Phone has carrier support as does BlackBerry. Why? Carriers don't want to be dependent on Apple and Google. That reality is why you see Samsung trying all sorts of software overlays to minimize dependence on Android. The problem: there are viable mobile platforms beyond Android and Apple's iOS, but consumers aren't buying.

BlackBerry's most recent quarter indicates that demand is tepid for BlackBerry 10 devices. Windows Phone largely depends on Nokia, which is also struggling.

Perhaps Firefox OS has a shot. Firefox has the open source cred with Mozilla just like Android has. Meanwhile, Firefox also has a well-known brand. The first Firefox OS devices will be the Alcatel One Touch Fire and ZTE Open.

Mozilla is also targeting growth abroad in a move that's strategically sound.

Firefox OS is designed from the ground up to be about the Web and will have features such as Facebook and Twitter. The idea is that the phone is integrated with the Web and that minimizes the need for non-HTML5 apps. Mozilla describes the elevator pitch:

Firefox OS features a brand new concept for smartphones — an adaptive app search that literally transforms the phone to meet your needs at any moment, without the need to download anything. Simply swipe to the right on your Firefox OS phone and start to type what you are interested in to get a whole new customized phone experience based on your needs instantly.

For example, search for your favorite music artist and get results to buy your favorite song, concert tickets or even listen to your favorite song instantly. Making it possible for you to create these one-time use or downloadable apps on demand gives you a completely customized experience and helps you get the exact content you want, when you want it.

Firefox OS is all about the HTML5 apps, but it's unclear whether the market will be ready for it. Folks are used to downloading apps.

In other words, Firefox OS is one fine mobile Petri dish and 20 hardware and operator partners highlight the interest. Everyone seems to want a real No. 3 platform with Android dominating the market. Why not Firefox OS?

Topics: Mobility, Mobile OS, Open Source, Smartphones

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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