Mozilla’s Firefox enters into the Smartphone market

January 22, 2013

Mozilla foundation has pushed ahead with its mobile Firefox operating system by announcing two developer handsets. Called Keon and Peak, the two UMTS smartphones support 3G HSPA and have 512 MB RAM and 4 GB of read-only memory. The Keon is the low-end model with a single-core 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S1, 3.5-inch multi-touch screen and three megapixel camera. While watching the launch video, I realized that the Geekphone Peak is a meatier proposition with a dual-core Qualcomm S4 onboard and a 4.3-inch IPS screen, and an 8 megapixel camera. The good news is that both phones are unlocked and can be used with any carrier’s SIM in the GSM and UMTS 900, 1900 and 2100 MHz bands, and also in the 850 and 1800MHz GSM frequency ranges.In my own assessment, these are phones that might appeal to the rapidly growing number of people in emerging markets of Asia and African countries since most of them are making the transition from feature phones to Smartphones and probably, are not interested in paying pay too much for the privilege. Unfortunately, availability of the developers phones was not given by Mozilla. However, since last month just like many other software developers, I have the Firefox OS simulator for desktop operating systems to test my apps on, as well as the ability to try them out on Android through Marketplace for Firefox. Firefox OS itself is an attempt by Mozilla to make the mobile web more accessible to everyone according to the foundation’s director of websites and developer engagement, Stormy Peters.

Based on a Linux kernel, Firefox OS runs on ARM-based mobile devices and utilizes Mozilla’s Gecko engine, with HTML5 applications having direct access to hardware through Javascript. Mozilla believes the web standards HTML5 core will enable Firefox OS to compete against Android and Apple’s iOS. The devices will ship in early February with no pre-order and the platform won’t be available to consumers until later this year. Spain’s Geeksphone will help build the handsets. The entry of Firefox is poised to a bruising battles between them and market godfathers of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, together with two other open sourced-mobile ecosystems set to fight for attention from developers this year namely the Samsung’s Tizen, Jolla’s Sailfish while the Canonical’s Ubuntu will join the fray next year.Looking at the details keenly, It is clear Mozilla is targeting emerging markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America. My main reasoning is based on the fact that Mozilla Firefox has a higher chance of its operating system catching on in places where people are trying smartphones for the first time like in Africa and Asian countries. Essentially, Mozilla aims is to redefine the word “open” back in “open source,” despite the fact its competitor Android defines itself as open source although most of us developers widely think otherwise because Google keeps exploiting the term because of how Android platform is licensed. Another selling point is that Mozilla’s phones will be relatively cheap but am not sure for now. Firefox OS will run HTML5 apps, which are essentially like websites running within a browser, and on the small screen of a smartphone.

Contador Harrison