Firefox OS – The Vital Promise


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The success of Firefox hinges on a single promise.

  • Lots of attendees and lots of partners were present for the launch of Mozilla’s Firefox OS that has been squarely aimed at emerging markets.
  • The new OS is written entirely in HTML-5, which adds a number of features that gives the system apart from its competitors.
    • Firstly, the software and hardware (by Qualcomm) have been thoroughly optimised to work together which dispels the old problem of web apps running slowly and consuming vast resources.
    • Secondly, with the whole device running in HTML-5, the apps can either run in the browser or stand-alone on the device. This allows application to be “temporarily installed” and then discarded after a single use.
    • This will resonate with those have loads of apps on their devices that gobble resources, need to be constantly updated but have hardly been used.  
    • Typical example would be a new game that promises to be great but ends up being poor. Typically this would sit on the device, gobbling resources but never touched again.
    • Firefox OS can download the apps into the browser, run them with the same performance as HTML-5 is native to these devices and then get rid of them when finished.
    • Thirdly, It going to be cheap.
    • Mozilla promises mid-high Smartphone performance at mid to high feature phone prices.
    • I think this means prices around the $80-$130 mark with one of the operator partners putting his peg in at $100.
    • To me, this is what will make FireFox OS work. If this promise is really delivered on, then there is a proposition that is worthy of hundreds of millions of users.
    • If not, then it will just be used by operators as a stick with which to try and beat Apple and Android into submission before failing and being dropped by the wayside.
    • Fourthly, it is not a new community. There are lots of developers out there already writing for HTML-5 meaning that developer traction and apps is unlikely to be a major problem.
  • However, the problems are legion:
    • It is open source code with 50% of the code being contributed by volunteers.
    • What is more Mozilla’s philosophy is for total openness with no one having overall control
    • Its very nice but this is a recipe for total anarchy especially in a world that is so driven by hardware.
    • Android is already chaotic enough and is incredibly vulnerable because of it. This could be far worse meaning that the users can never really get on top of the proposition.
    • Security is going to be a nightmare. Loads of app stores and developers delivering code directly to users basically means that there will be virtually no control preventing malicious code from getting past hapless users.
    • There may be some way of controlling this by running apps in the browser, but this not going to solve the problem entirely.
    • Mozilla and its partners have chosen the most brutally competitive and toughest part of the market to address.
    • This is why it must deliver on its promise or no one will ever notice.
  • The bottom line is that Mozilla has an interesting proposition but I think, like Jolla, it has missed an opportunity.
  • Android looks very vulnerable and there I see no reason why users in developed markets might not be tempted by something different when they come to change their phones.
  • This is a more benign market even though it is mature and I think that Mozilla and Jolla are ruled themselves out from a much easier win.
  • This is great for Nokia and Microsoft, as they have been pretty much left to their own devices in terms of sticking the knife into Android in developed markets.
  • Success is going to depend on the performance promise and on its partners making data available to users at much more reasonable prices.
  • I need to see 100m+ active subscribers to see FireFox OS as viable, 300m+ to call it a real success.

5 thoughts on “Firefox OS – The Vital Promise

  1. So you see no way that BBRY may also chime in with Nokia/MSFT in taking away some of that Android user base in developed markets?

    • I was remiss…actually it may well do so…I think BlackBerry has done enough to survive….whether or not it will flourish again is a more difficult question…

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