Mozilla's Firefox OS to rival iOS, Android

Mozilla's Firefox OS to rival iOS, Android

Summary: The open source pioneer will take on Apple's iOS and Google's Android with a Firefox OS for mobile devices, supporting open web standards, especially HTML5. The first devices will appear mid-year, but not in the US, at least initially.


Mozilla may be way late to the mobile OS party, but its focus on open web standards and devices, independence from any one single vendor, and focus on emerging markets is a smart way to debut.

On February 24, just prior to the launch of the Mobile World Congress, the Mozilla Foundation announced the commercial launch of its preview Firefox operating system for mobile devices and Firefox Marketplace with 17 mobile operators and four OEMs.

The first wave of Firefox OS mobile devices — to be "unleashed" by Alcatel, LG, and ZTE in emerging markets beginning mid-year (Huawei to follow later in the year) — will be based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors. Initially, they will be aimed at consumers in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain, and Venezuela, with other markets to follow.

Mozilla is wise to debut in emerging markets with a focus on open web standards, such as HTML 5, and distinguishing its technology and approach from those of proprietary giants Apple and Google.

"Firefox OS smartphones are the first built entirely to open web standards, enabling every feature to be developed as an HTML5 application," Mozilla announced yesterday. "Web apps access every underlying capability of the device, bypassing the typical hindrances of HTML5 on mobile to deliver substantial performance. The platform's flexibility allows carriers to easily tailor the interface and develop localized services that match the unique needs of their customer base."

"Most mobile apps are built with web technologies at the core, and then wrapped in a proprietary technology to distribute the app on a specific platform," the foundation added. "Mozilla is unlocking the web as a mobile development platform with Firefox Marketplace and unwrapping mobile apps to enable more opportunity and control for developers and consumers

Mozilla also claims that its top notch search capabilities — including contextual search — and integration with Facebook and Twitter out of the box make it very competitive with Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

"Firefox OS includes all the things people need from a smartphone out of the box — calls, messaging, email, camera, and more — as well as the things you wish a smartphone offered, like built-in cost controls, social features with Facebook and Twitter, location-based services, much-loved features like the Firefox web browser, new ability to discover one-time use and downloadable apps, Firefox Marketplace, and much more."

"Every device is better if it's social, and we're excited that Firefox OS users will have easy access to the mobile web-based version of Facebook that will take advantage of our current and future features," said Vaughan Smith, VP of mobile partnerships at Facebook.

"With Firefox OS, you can simply enter any search term and instantly create a one-time use or downloadable app. Creating and consuming these apps on demand puts users in complete control of their app and smartphone experience, and will make it possible for people to get the exact content they want, when they want it."

Mozilla also has pretty good positioning, particularly since it's aimed outside of the Apple- and Google-obsessed markets, and at audiences more sensitive to the open source and open web standards messaging. It will be targeting consumers in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain, and Venezuela initially.

Topics: Mobile OS, Open Source

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  • As with the Ubuntu OS for mobile,

    it would seem to me that a good target is popular older Android (but Powerful) phones that have ceased receiving updates from vendors if putting another OS on them is possible. If they want to give people an option to try it out, without buying a new device AND to build some momentum they could target older Android phones whose users feel left out. They may not be able to support a large variety of these older phones, but they are likely going to need something to build some momentum and a ready base of phones who have ceased getting updates would allow power users to put the image on the devices (assuming that is possible).
    • Kinda

      where I think Ubuntu should be looking...good point.
    • jkohut .. stroke of genius thinking there

      Score it +1000.

      You've got some brilliant ideas right there.
  • A boost for Chrome OS

    Pushing open web standards and encouraging app development with html5 will benefit Chrome OS the most, as the better the web apps, the smaller the market for Windows and IOS. Perhaps that has been part of Google's strategy all along in supporting Firefox development.
    • with recent integration of web apps into unity

      Ubuntu stands to gain a lot from this too
    • This is about FF OS, and not FF Browser, and FF OS will be a competitor to

      Chrome OS, so I doubt that Google would be excited about what FF is doing.
  • Torn between Firefox OS and Ubuntu

    It is great to see some competition to IOS that does not have Google spyware integrated. Android and Chrome are no go's in my book.

    But, if there is room for more OS's, it is really a question of who can get developers to create the needed apps.
  • Birth of the FireBook

    There's no reason the FF OS couldn't be put into a notebook or tablet, giving us the FireBook (except they'd probably be sued by Amazon because of the name). So the FF OS could eventually be a direct Chrome OS competitor. And if Mozilla can figure out how to allow a printer to be plugged directly into a USB port (instead of the annoying Cloud Printing) they'd have a real advantage over Chrome in some markets.
    Anono Mouser
  • Interesting, but not likely to last

    I follow the mobile market news with interest and I am curious to see how well this works but realistically this isn't likely to have any more adoption than a linux desktop. People get all excited and cheer these things on but at the end of the day this will go nowhere. The fight will be between Blackberry, Windows phone 8 and Tizen. I think that blackberry will fold in a year or two, Microsoft has the money to keep pushing WP until it suceeds or they go bankrupt and Tizen is backed by Samsung. FF and Ubuntu are cool and interesting conceptps and I will follow them with interest but the reality is that they are DOA.
    Burger Meister
  • Kikes

    Another waste of R&D. First Google OS and now Firefox OS for the phone. So far, no major manufacturer wants to touch it. I wonder why.
  • Interesting New Firefox

    Firefox has definitely shown the best of capabilities regarding developing add-ons for Firefox using Add-on Builder. I have been extensively working on it and making use of this blog here:

    This resource is quite helpful too and I want you to check it out as well as review it for usage. Thanks!
    Scott Fratto