Opening the mobile device world for the entire world
By Tracey Grose
With the roll out of its Firefox OS phone on July 2, 2013, the Mozilla Foundation, nonprofit provider of Firefox browser, has made a huge contribution to the open-source movement and expanding global to smart devices. The Firefox OS phone is the first mobile device to be run completely on web technologies. Launched initially in Spain, Telefónica will sell the ZTE Open powered by Firefox OS for 69 Euros (about $90), and will include 30 Euros worth of credits for pre-paid customers.
What does this mean for the typical smartphone user? And what does it mean for emerging markets?
As Steve Lohr, New York Times' "Bits" technology blog, frames it, "Mozilla’s inspired foray into opening up the mobile device is part of a broader global open-source movement that promises to empower creativity and economic agency and to propel innovation globally."
The open platform of the Firefox operating system allows broad access, new potential for specialization and new economic opportunity for small business. The HTML-based operating system is more economical because there is less need for software. This OS also opens the phone up to any developer to build applications tailored to the specific needs of populations in parts of the world with unique needs and until now, limited access to smart devices.
Writing apps is as easy as writing pages for the web. These apps are not locked into proprietary platform but can be accessed through the web browser of any smart phone. Further, anyone can sell an app on the Firefox Marketplace, allowing developers to create their own customer relationships. The platform will have carrier billing using payment platform Bango.
As Mozilla's CEO, Gary Kovacs sees it:
"The introduction of the open mobile OS continues the Mozilla mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web for users and developers. 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 Firefox mobile device presents the latest disruption to the continual changing smartphone market. See the informative series on the changing smartphone and app markets from Haydn Shaughnessy at Forbes. For an insightful comparison of the different approaches to mobile by Mozilla and Google, check out the accessible piece by Christopher Mims on Quarz.