Ever since Mozilla announced its Boot-to-Gecko (B2G) project back in 2011, it has been creating a buzz around the blogosphere. Re-branded as Firefox OS, this project aims to build a complete web-based operating system for smartphones and tablets. The devices with the operating system are set to release in early 2013.
How will it perform in the market among other established competitors? Let’s find out.
What makes it different?
Mozilla took an entirely different approach for building this operating system. The OS is built entirely upon open web standards in which web applications will be developed in HTML5, just as the OS, and will be able to access the system files.
The framework removes the native API layer and focuses entirely on web-based content and APIs. Essentially, the native applications will be absent and any application that is required will be web-based, be it either calling, messaging, accessing the calendar.
The current leading operating systems, Android and iOS, do not allow such a functionality. Andreas Gal, the Director of Research at Mozilla, termed them as “silos”. “Mobile is an entirely different environment,” said Gal, pointing to the market silos– Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7. “Each has its own store, advertising networks, development platforms and services. Android is often called open source, but it’s not really open in the terms that Mozilla talks about open. Like iOS, you basically have a silo. It’s controlled by Google,” said Gal.
Firefox OS will provide the smartphone and tablet makers with an alternative with which they can customize their user experiences, manage consumer attention, and simplify application distribution.
How will it compete in a market dominated by Android, iOS and WP7?
Firefox OS devices will be launched in early 2013 with TCL Corporation and ZTE being the first manufacturers. The devices will be equipped with snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. Mozilla will begin by focusing on entry level smartphones rather than high-end phones, to make the first-time smartphone users the prime customer base. Once it has gained momentum and is accepted by the consumers, it will begin its deployment on the high-end phones to compete with the iOS, Android and WP7.
Does it have a fear of getting sued for patent infringement?
Looking at the screenshots that have been released by Mozilla, there isn’t a stark difference between the layouts of Firefox OS and Android and iOS. On the topic of patent infringement, Andreas Gal said, “suing [Mozilla] probably doesn’t make a lot of sense! We are a not-for-profit foundation for the public benefit.”
The implication is that the lack of money available to pay damages, as well as the negative PR effects of picking on Mozilla, will protect the foundation from such an action.
Last month, Mozilla released an add-on for the public to experience the OS in a simulated environment in the browser itself. This was intended help the developers gain an insight into the OS and encourage them to build more applications for the app store. (To install the add-on in your Firefox browser, click here.) There are some applications that are already available to install on the simulator. Take a look at the new OS below.
Excited for the launch? Let us know your thoughts on Firefox OS.