Blog & Company News

Aug 13, 2012

Tech News: Mozilla Unveils HTML5-Based OS Device

Mozilla gains industry support as it plans to launch a fully open mobile ecosystem based on HTML5; first announced in July 2011. Mozilla also confirmed the operating system will use its Firefox brand and be built entirely on open Web standards. “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, chief executive officer, Mozilla. “As billions of users are expected to come online for the first time in coming years, it is important to deliver compelling smartphone experience that anyone can use.” The creators behind the Firefox browser say their new OS powered device is expected to launch in Brazil in early 2013. A release in the U.S. has not been noted, but expected to follow soon after. Previously titled “Boots to Gecko project,” will go beyond current limitations in Web development on mobile, “allowing HTML5 applications to access the underlying capabilities of a phone, previously only available to native applications.” Mozilla’s HTML5-based OS device is set to power the next generation of smartphones while delivering reasonable prices. According to a Mozilla statement, “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.”[1] Carriers interested in backing the open Firefox OS include: Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Telenor. “Sprint continues to support an open mobile ecosystem that enables choice for Sprint customers and a healthy competitive ecosystem for the technical community,” said Sprint Product Chief, Fared Adib. “Firefox Mobile OS can help us drive an HTML5-based platform for creating lower cost smartphone options for prepaid, postpaid and wholesale customers.” Kovacs also noted that with the many operators and manufactures now supporting their effort, they will help bring “additional resources and diversity” to their global offerings. For instance, Telefonica’s Digital joined Mozilla to create new phone architecture where every phone feature (calling, messaging, games, etc.) is an HTML5 application. Telefonica Digital’s Chairman and CEO, Matthew Key, said that with the Firefox OS device being offered a lower cost, it will help accelerate the adoption of smartphones in developing markets. “The breadth of support for this initiative across the industry makes it clear that there is an opportunity in the market for a new, open mobile ecosystem,” said Key. Mozilla notes in their statement that device manufacturers TLC Communication Technology and ZTE will manufacture the first devices. The Firefox OS will use Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm Incorporated. Al Hilwa, analyst at IDC, consulting service provider for companies on technology, told ComputerWorld in an email statement: “Mozilla’s timing is great, given the precipitous declines in BlackBerry and Symbian, and the protracted reboot of the Windows Phone platform. It makes sense [for Mozilla and the carriers] to hit first with the international markets which are more competitive and price-sensitive. You can argue the market as a whole would like more choices that just Apple and Android.” However, Jay Goldberg, a research analyst for Deutsche Bank, expressed concerns with Information Week, stating, “While [Firefox OS] is promising, it also still has serious limitations that will limit developer interest, especially around gaming,” adding, “While most of the industry believes that Web apps represent the future of mobile computing, the HTML5 standard still needs a few more years to prepare.”
[1] Official Mozilla Blog