Mozilla Aims To Take On Apple In Mobile OS Wars
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Google and Apple are quickly making the smartphone wars a two-faction battle with their Android and iOS offerings. Sure, RIM still has a few companies using their BlackBerry smartphones, while Microsoft is trying to ramp up their offerings with their new Windows Phone options, but the majority of new smartphone purchasers are opting to side with Apple or the green robot of envy.
Therefore, announcing a new major mobile OS competitor is a gutsy move, especially this late in the battle. In April, Mozilla announced they had the nerves to enter the fray with their Boot To Gecko mobile OS.
Built upon HTML 5 and web standards, B2G is said to be lightweight and able to run any of the HTML 5 apps already found on the Internet today. When it was first announced, only one network partner in Brazil, Telefonica Vivo, said they´d carry the new phone.
Today, Mozilla has said their B2G baby is making some progress, announcing hardware and network partners, as well as a brand new name for their mobile OS.
Taking on the Firefox name, B2G will now be called Firefox OS and will run on Alcatel One Touch branded phones. ZTE is also on board, saying they will manufacture Firefox OS phones which will run on Snapdragon processors. A phone is worthless without carriers, of course. Mozilla has also announced they have partnered with 6 networks, including Deutsche Telekom (German owners of the American T-Mobile), Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia and Telenor.
“The introduction of the open mobile OS continues the Mozilla mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web for users and developers. As billions of users are expected to come online for the first time in the coming years, it is important to deliver a compelling smartphone experience that anyone can use,” said Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs.
“The large number of operators and manufacturers now supporting this effort will bring additional resources and diversity to our global offerings.”
While Mozilla had originally projected the first Firefox OS phones would make an appearance by the end of 2012, they are now saying their first phones could hit Brazil first next year.
While Android and iOS are celebrating their success in the mobile economy, others are still struggling to catch on. One of the main reasons for their struggle, it´s been suggested, is the lack of apps available for their platforms. Rather than persuade developers to write apps for their platform, Mozilla´s Firefox OS will run any web app written in HTML 5. Therefore, writing for Firefox OS will be free and available on any device capable of running HTML 5.
This also puts stress on Google and Microsoft, as they rely on a deeper integration and partnership with phone manufacturers. Similar to their Windows OS, Microsoft demands a licensing fee from any manufacturer who uses their Windows Phone OS. Since Firefox OS will be a free and truly open operating system, manufacturers won´t have to sign similar deals to bring smartphones to the masses.
“Mozilla’s OS for mobile devices will help deliver on our mission to offer advanced Web technologies that eliminate roadblocks for users and developers. It will also help Mozilla to democratize smartphone experiences to the billions of internet users expected to come online for the first time through mobile in the coming years,” said Kovacs in a statement.
While relying on web development for applications may seem like a wise idea, it´s worth noting that Apple originally tried this approach with their first iPhone. After only a year, they gave up on this approach, announcing their iPhone OS SDK for developers, which allowed for third-party apps to be written specifically for iPhone.