Firefox OS launches with wide support
Mozilla is moving from desktop to mobile with the announcement of its HML5-centric Firefox OS which, it says, will primarily target developing economies.
The launch, announced at the World Mobile Conference, is being supported by 18 mobile operators, including Telefonica, China Unicom, Telenor and Etisalat. The first devices from Alcatel One Touch, LG and ZTE are to launch 'later this year' and Huawei models will follow.
The new OS will “break down the walls between apps and the web,” claims Jay Sullivan, Mozilla Senior Vice President of Products. It will be accompanied by Firefox Marketplace for app downloads which is being supported by AccuWeather, Airbnb, Box, Cut the Rope, Disney Mobile Games, EA games, Facebook, Nokia HERE, MTV Brasil, Pulse News, SoundCloud, SporTV, Terra, Time Out and Twitter.
Forrester mobile analyst Thomas Husson is impressed with the line up of operators supporting the launch which will help Mozilla target developing markets.
"We’re only entering the second wave of smartphone adoption,” he writes in a new blog.
“Forrester expects an installed base of 3 billion smartphones by end 2017. Most of the growth will come from developing economies in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, where people’s first digital experiences will be mobile.
"Operators backing Firefox OS (such as Telefonica, China Unicom, Telenor, and Etisalat) have a strong presence in these regions. ZTE and Huawei (alongside Alcatel One Touch and LG) are among the device manufacturers backing the initiative."
Tony Cripps, principal device analyst at Ovum, is similarly impressed with the line up of operators and manufacturers backing the new OS. While he cautions we will only be able to judge the platform’s success later in the year when devices are launched, the initial support is impressive.
“Firefox OS has achieved something that no device software platform has previously managed – translating an industry talking shop into a huge commitment from both carriers and hardware vendors at its commercial launch,” he says.
“Neither Android nor Symbian – the closest benchmarks in terms of broad industry sponsorship that we’ve previously seen – have rallied the level of support that Firefox OS has achieved so early in its development.
“That is a huge achievement for what, in fairness, has looked like an underdog among the plethora of alternative software platforms currently vying to power the so-called “third ecosystem”.
Cripps warns that though the neutrality of the Firefox Foundation will earn early support, consumers will only support the likely low-priced launch devices if they perform well.