May 28, 2013
Mozilla Brings Another Partner Aboard The Firefox OS Train
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Mozilla has been steadily working to add another mobile operating system to the current two horse race status of the market. During February´s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Mozilla announced several smartphone carriers who will help deliver the new OS to customers in China, Europe, Italy, Japan, the United States and elsewhere.
Yesterday (May 27) Mozilla announced another partner to help them bring this new OS to market. According to news source Focus Taiwan, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. has agreed to produce devices running the Firefox OS natively. Hon Hai is the parent company to Foxconn, maker of iPhones and other Apple gear. Focus Taiwan and other news sources have also received invitations to a press conference which will make this partnership official as well as unveil a device running the new OS. One inside source told Focus Taiwan that this device may likely be a tablet.
While Mozilla is ramping up their efforts to deliver this OS, there are some who already have access to phones running this new OS. Spanish company Geeksphone began selling two such devices in April, the Keon and the Peak. These phones are aimed at developers who want to create and test apps for the new operating system. These phones aren´t slouches by way of hardware specifications but aren´t truly remarkable either; both are equipped with hardware found on most phones on the market. This sort of mid-range or “cheap” approach to the modern smartphone is something Mozilla hopes to leverage to their favor.
The major difference between Firefox OS and the others is the kind of hardware needed to run the OS. Firefox is a browser-based operating system, meaning it runs web apps and can constantly pull data from the web. As such the phone only needs to be powerful enough to run a browser and any app which needs a browser to power it. Mozilla likely hopes this approach will earn them a two-pronged weapon in the mobile OS war.
First, any web developer will be able to write apps for this platform, and any developer with a popular app on another OS like Android or iOS only need to write a web version to port it over to Firefox. Secondly, a browser based system could essentially broaden the smartphone market to anyone who can afford a basic, mid-range phone.
In many ways, the Firefox OS looks to be the anti-Apple, open and available to all with a non-proprietary language for developers.
Apple is a huge customer of Hon Hai, though they also build devices for the likes of Hewlett Packard and Nokia. Worried they´ll become too dependent on Apple, Hon Hai has been looking for ways to expand their portfolio. As a part of this expansion, Hon Hai is looking to invest in media content, software and retail. This new partnership with Mozilla could possibly fulfill these goals for the manufacturing company.