Firefox OS – a new era of the mobile Web

Firefox OS, or “Boot to Gecko”, is Mozilla’s open source mobile operating system (OS), based on Linux and Mozilla’s Gecko technology. Providing application developers a platform based on HTML 5 and other open web technologies, like JavaScript and CSS, makes it an unconstrained mobile platform, accessible to any manufacturer, operator, and developer. And this OS, which is as open as Android, and seems as flexible as web applications can be, wants to spread worldwide!

heres-what-the-home-screen-looks-like-on-the-firefox-phone-it-looks-a-heck-of-a-lot-like-the-iphone

Image source: Twitter / @robhawkes – http://twitpic.com/photos/robhawkes

Response by the telecoms industry

Are telcos and manufacturers committing to Firefox OS? It seems they do.

There is already known support from the operators Telefonica, Sprint, Deutsche Telekom, Smart, Telecom Italia, and Telenor, as well as the commitment of hardware manufacturers such as ZTE and TCL (Alcatel), and Mozilla announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February 2013 that 18 operators were committed to Firefox OS and the collaboration with manufacturers TCL (Alcatel), LG and ZTE to build the first Firefox OS devices, with Huawei to follow later in the year.

Devices

Are there any mobile devices available in the market already? It seems that device offers are slowly coming.

To open the market, and towards a rich set of apps, Geeksphone started selling the first Firefox OS smartphones in April, models Keon and Peak, but these were devices for developers and not for the mass market! The first commercial Firefox OS phone was the ZTE Open launched by Telefonica in July 2013 in Spain. But right away it was followed by the announcement of the Geeksphone Peak+, pre-order announced for mid-October 2013. Furthermore, Telefonica follows Mozilla on its intention to bet on emerging market countries from South and Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

But mobile devices are not all smartphones, and the latest news is about a Firefox OS tablet from Foxconn which was announced in the beginning of June at Computex 2013.

Apps

And what about apps?

The Firefox OS app store is the Marketplace, already available on Firefox Aurora for downloading, and presenting a pre-selection of apps in different areas.

Facilitating apps development, Mozilla has developed a Firefox OS simulator to allow mobile apps to be tested in Windows, Mac, and Linux. But this is not the only initiative to push for apps development from Mozilla, who is offering a new phone, a Geeksphone, as a platform to have the apps tested in Firefox OS for those who have a great app idea and the skills to build it.

Maybe in the future Mozilla will offer free tablets instead, so we might choose to spare our ideas for then instead of going for the Geeksphone offer now!

Outlook

Will Mozilla be a threat for Apple and Google? There is no easy answer.

It’s most about the users, and for the users it’s most about the apps! So, if Firefox OS succeds to show that there’s nothing a web app can’t do, from the upper layers to the hardware layers in a mobile device, it may have a chance to win to the dedicated iOS apps from Apple and the open Android native apps from Google.

Conclusion

Firefox OS is an open platform turning the Web into a platform and ending the era of proprietary platforms. The reason for the success will be mainly the cheap pricing that Firefox OS is already bringing to the mobile web market. However, predictions in this dynamic market are not very reliable, so let us see how the market evolves.

Firefox OS logo

Image source: Angelina Fabbro, @angelinamagnum – http://afabbro.github.io/jsconfbr2013/

Further information

Check the latest Firefox news at http://firefoxos.info

Read more on:

Firefox OS at https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Firefox_OS/

Firefox OS Simulator at https://hacks.mozilla.org/2013/03/firefox-os-simulator-previewing-version-3-0/

Gecko technology at  https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Gecko

Gaia user interface at https://wiki.mozilla.org/Gaia

HTML 5 standard at http://www.w3.org/2011/02/htmlwg-pr.html

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