Mozilla Making Firefox an Operating System for the Mobile Environment.

What to buy a Boot to Gecko phone? Probably not. How about a Firefox phone? The folks at Mozilla are hoping you will and they have companies like Deutsche Telekom and Sprint supporting them. They are looking to release Firefox OS phones by the first quarter of 2013 with phones being released by both Alcatel and China’s ZTE.

File:B2G Gaia UI in Firefox.png

The Boot to Gecko User Interface running in Firefox on a simulated phone screen. Caption is from Mozilla and licensed under an Apache 2.0 license.

Mozilla, just like Google with Chrome, is making their Firefox browser an OS.  Mozilla is re-branding Boot to Gecko (B2G) as Firefox OS.  Unlike Chrome OS, they are gathering a lot of industry momentum.   What Firefox OS has going for it is a lot of industry support, including not only Deutsche Telekcom and Sprint, but Etisalat, Smart Communications, Telenor, Telecom Italia, TCL Communication Technology, and Telefónica.

While Firefox OS can be viewed as yet another Linux mobile OS, it offers a couple of distinct advantages.  First, they are allowing for companies to offer lower cost alternatives to the current smartphones on the market.  In Mozilla’s blog announcing their plans, Mozilla states,

“Due to the optimization of the platform for entry-level smartphones and the removal of unnecessary middleware layers, mobile operators will have the ability to offer richer experiences at a range of price points including at the low end of the smartphone price range, helping to drive adoption across developing markets.”

Secondly, Firefox OS is built using HTML5.  As Mozilla puts it, they are unlocking “many of the current limitations of web development on mobile, allowing HTML5 applications to access the underlying capabilities of a phone, previously only available to native applications.” You will see features like messaging and gaming implemented as HTML5 applications.

Fared Adib, the Product Chief at Sprint comments, “Firefox Mobile OS can help us drive an HTML5-based platform for creating lower cost smartphone options for prepaid, postpaid and wholesale customers.”

One recent criticism of the offering was offered yesterday by  Sean Micheal Kerner  of InternetNews.  Kerner criticizes, “With Firefox OS linked to a mobile OS, the Firefox platform brand will also now be confused as a mobile-first brand. While I don’t disagree that mobile is where the growth is, I’d strongly recommend to the braintrust at Mozilla to not forget about the hundreds of millions using Firefox today.”

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