Site   Web

February 26, 2013

Mozilla Plans to ‘Unlock Mobile’ With Firefox OS

Firefox OS to Start in ‘Emerging’ Countries, Coming to U.S. in 2014

It is time for Mozilla to “free the Web” for mobile, says Chief Executive Gary Kovacs.

Kovacs, who spoke at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain Monday night (Feb. 25), said the mobile Web is being “unnaturally controlled by a few parties.”

What is being “asked of us now is to free the Web,” Kovacs said. “To create a common set of standards to create a way for everybody to participate wherever you happen to be and on whatever device.

Firefox OS start page

Firefox OS start page

“A year ago we outlined an ambitious plan, many thought too ambitious and we were joined by a group of really early adopters … who said we subscribe to that, we have a shared vision and we’re going to help. And now, tonight, we are joined by over 23 partners to launch what has become known as Firefox OS.”

Given that an additional two billion people will gain Internet access in the next five years, the two main players — Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android — cannot cover all mobile users’ needs, Kovacs said.

“We fundamentally don’t believe there should ever be one or two companies that tell you and I and four or five or six billion people what to view,” Kovacs said. “That’s a broken model and it needs to change.”

Mozilla previewed the first commercial build of its Firefox OS open mobile ecosystem Feb. 24. The first round of Firefox OS devices will be available to consumers in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela with additional markets to be announced soon. So far, 17 carriers from around the globe are on board.

“It took 22 years for the first two billion people to connect online. The next two billion are going to connect over the next four to five years, so we’re going to double the Internet presence in a very short period of time. Most of that growth is going to be coming from what is called the emerging world,” Kovacs said.

Firefox OS screen shot

Firefox OS screen shot

“They don’t have the same economic status and the same disposable income … it is there where the Firefox devices will be largely aimed. So price-points will be very affordable to that market. Mid- to mid-high Smartphone function for mid- to mid-high feature phone pricing.”

Given that the “emerging world” is just coming on board with Smartphones, he added, Mozilla felt this was the right place to start and will gradually take Firefox OS global. Kovacs said Mozilla has partners lined up in the U.S. and will likely launch Firefox OS there in 2014.

Mozilla is currently working with Smartphone manufacturers LG, ZTE and Alcatel to build the first Firefox OS devices powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors. Huawei will join later this year and it is thought Sony will too.

Firefox OS Smartphones are the first to be built “entirely to open Web standards, enabling every feature to be developed as an HTML5 application,” reads a company press release

Web apps access every underlying capability of the device, bypassing the typical hindrances of HTML5 on mobile to deliver substantial performance. The platform’s flexibility allows carriers to easily tailor the interface and develop localized services that match the unique needs of their customer base.”