Apple, Google and Microsoft all used the month of June as a platform to announce the newest mobile operating systems each has to offer: iOS 6, Android Jelly Bean and Windows Phone 8. In a much less grandiose manner, Mozilla on Monday introduced its own entrant into the ever expanding mobile world: Firefox OS. Because the more the merrier, right?
Mozilla is hoping consumer recognition of the Firefox brand will be enough to jumpstart adoption of the HTML5-based operating system. The company said Firefox OS will be built entirely to open Web standards, where all of the device’s capabilities can be developed as HTML5 apps. In addition, Firefox OS follows Mozilla’s ongoing “Boot to Gecko project,” which allows “HTML5 apps to access the underlying capabilities of a phone” in Web development on mobile.
Basically, Boot to Gecko is a free world where Open Web is the platform for mobile devices. That means operators and developers won’t be required to learn and develop against platform-specific native APIs, Mozilla explained. Earlier this year, Mozilla demonstrated the ability to run calling, messaging, games and more entirely through an HTML5 application. Devices based on Open Web can access and download content regardless of which OS its on.
“The introduction of the open mobile OS continues the Mozilla mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web for users and developers,” said Gary Kovacs, CEO, Mozilla. “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. The large number of operators and manufacturers now supporting this effort will bring additional resources and diversity to our global offerings.”
The main draw, and the reason why such carriers as Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat and Sprint are behind it, is the potential to “deliver compelling smartphone experiences at attainable prices.” Initially, the project is aimed at developing markets, where Google in particular has seen massive growth; Vivo in Brazil will launch the first commercial handset in early 2013. (Ha, probably before RIM’s BlackBerry 10 hits any markets.)
The first devices will be designed by TCL Communication Technology and ZTE, with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors as preliminary guts.
Mozilla is entering the market at a time when the race for mobile supremacy is more fierce than it has ever been. Established companies such as Microsoft and Research In Motion, who have been in the game for years, are finding it hard enough as it is to keep up with the likes of Apple and Google. Now add Firefox OS to the mix? There’s hardly enough room in town for two right now. It’ll be interesting to see how Mozilla’s project measures up when the first devices hits next year.