Yesterday it was announced that Mozilla’s Firefox OS, an Open Web, HTML5-friendly mobile OS, is receiving a swell of support from some big players in the telecommunication industry. Forbes reports that Mozilla “got a major boost from 18 international carriers” including Sprint, Telefonoica and America Movil. Mozilla has partnered up with the likes of LG Electronics, Alcatel One Touch and ZTE, which will be releasing devices running Firefox OS this summer. Perhaps most importantly, Mozilla garnered the support of several mobile app heavy-hitters including Zeptolabs (Cut the Rope; Disney Mobile Games) EA games, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
One of the biggest initial struggles for Android was app support, and the Android Marketplace lived in the shadow of Apples App Store for quite some time. Forbes notes that Android did not have the same level of broad industry support in its early development as Firefox has currently.
With the support of such well-known names, this almost seems like a hole-in-one for Firefox. But there are a few problems. Forbes claims that the OS still “needs improvement”. There is also a lot of concern surrounding the fact that many of these apps, though HTML5-based, are web apps, making the icons on the screen of your potential Firefox OS device a mere shortcut. As an iPhone user myself, I refuse to download an “app” that is merely a shortcut to a web-based application. My browser has bookmarks built in. I don’t need more icons cluttering my phone. While this may prove to be a problem for some, those looking for a lower-cost alternative may not be as concerned.
Breaking into an industry with well-established monoliths Apple and Google is a daunting task indeed. But if there is a company to do it, it’s Mozilla. Their first push into the market will be in Poland and Latin America. According to Matthew Key, CEO of Telefonica Digita, 82 percent of people in Latin America do not own a smartphone. It is believed that Mozilla will have a better chance at beating out iPhone and Android in these markets because there is a much larger demographic of people looking for low-cost mobile devices.
It’s certainly a bold strategy, but will it work? Voice your opinion in the comments.