Expanding the Mobile OS Scrum: Here Comes Firefox OS

Mozilla is working on a mobile operating system they call Firefox OS. Its CTO, Brendan Eich, had this to say to TechWeek Europe:

We see an opportunity to serve users by converting them from feature phones to inexpensive smartphones. The action is in the emerging market, not going up against the top end of the market in the US, where Android is chasing Apple.

Smart strategy. If Mozilla is successful with a new mobile operating system it sure is not going to be by going up against Apple, who controls the high end of the market. And it sure wouldn’t be the last time a low-end disruptor was disrupted on the low-end. A low-end disruptor forced to the middle might as well be no where because there is no mid-market.

Android licensees now have to worry about paying Apple and Microsoft royalties, have to compete against a Google-owned Motorola, and apparently have to worry about being kicked out of the open alliance for using an Android OS knock-off for other devices. So maybe Mozilla, unlike Palm’s webOS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Nokia’s Symbian and RIM’s BlackBerry OS, is in the right place at the right time?

Maybe. Although Firefox OS could get sued by Apple and its licensees have to pay royalties to Microsoft, so who really knows what the net impact will be. All I know for certain is that every time we shrink an OS maker in this market, we seem to also add one back to the scrum.

[via Parislemon]

2 thoughts on “Expanding the Mobile OS Scrum: Here Comes Firefox OS

  1. Firefox OS faces all the technical hurdles that dogged webOS: an inefficient stack (JavaScript is not a fast and efficient language, which is a bigger problem on low-end hardware) incomplete APIs (though there are more browser APIs than in 2009), and requiring yet another app package format.

    To succeed, they will need to integrate software with hardware from ZTE, Telephonica and others (not an easy task even in-house, which Palm/HP had).

    Apps are not as important to all users as Western pundits usually presume, but they will need some apps. Making it easy for developers to adapt existing web apps (which Palm/HP ignored) will be the key, along with helping them adapt to smaller screen sizes. New JavaScript frameworks that work well on both small screens and large (such as Enyo, which comes out of webOS) will also help.

    It’s good to see someone trying, but there are many hurdles between them and a viable market niche.

    • I agree. Interesting comparison, by the way, to webOS. I’m still surprised no one picked that up and ran with it, especially as a low-end disruptor rather than the original intended purpose as an iOS competitor. At least there was a viable and well-tested OS with some developer support already in place.

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