Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Mozilla’s HTML5 Phone Project, Now Christened Firefox OS, Signs Sprint and Other Carriers

The Mozilla open mobile project “Boot to Gecko” now has the official name Firefox OS.

It has won the support of a crew of global carriers, with the first Firefox OS phones set to launch early next year in Brazil, through Telefónica’s Vivo.

Firefox OS is to be an open mobile platform where every app and function is based on HTML5, with none of the so-called “native apps” specific to a particular operating system.

Want to make a call? HTML5. Want to send a message? HTML5. Want to play a game? HTML5.

The push toward HTML5 as a broader mobile platform comes at a time when some early advocates seem to be moving away from mobile Web applications out of frustration with their performance. For instance, the new version of the Facebook iPhone app has reportedly been rebuilt specifically for iOS to make it much faster. Previous versions had been built around HTML5 in the interest of compatibility across fragmented mobile platforms.

But Mozilla is doubling down on the Web. The named reference to Mozilla’s biggest brand is purposeful. Much as the Firefox browser targeted Internet Explorer, so Firefox OS is a major project meant to disrupt the existing smartphone leaders.

In this case, that’s iOS, Android and Windows Phone — where the operating systems and apps are not as open and compatible as Mozilla and its partners would like.

Firefox OS isn’t going to try to compete with the high end of the market, but rather with entry-level phones at relatively low prices, Mozilla has said. The thrust is to engage first-time smartphone users in emerging markets around the world.

The carrier partners on record supporting the project are now Deutsche Telekom, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor and Etisalat.

Telefónica and Deutsche Telekom’s Innovation Labs had previously gone public with support for the project in February at Mobile World Congress.

The first Firefox OS devices will be made by TCL Communication Technology/Alcatel One Touch and ZTE, with Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm.

(All this makes for interesting timing for Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs to speak at our Dive Into Mobile conference in October in New York City.)


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald