Firefox Smartphone – catalyst for change?

Firefox Operating System (OS) started life in July 2011 as Boot to Gecko, a Mozilla project aimed at creating a slimmed down operating system for mobile devices. The structure and philosophy behind the project was very simple and is now coming into full fruition. It is built on a straightforward premise that the web is a platform and therefore is the heart of the user experience.

What this means is there is a directness between the hardware abstraction layer and the web with no extraneous layers between the Kernel, Gecko (the Firefox engine) and Gaia (the user interface). So Gaia is written in Javascript and the OS uses customised version of Gecko to enhance and facilitate high end performance.

What else makes Firefox OS stand apart from Android and iOS is the simple and trans formative idea that the prevailing code of native apps, locked down platforms, proprietary software stores and capricious developer rules is limiting and unnecessary and can be transformed by web based apps that interact with stripped down and optimised OS that does little else but act like a phone and converse with the web.

This all may seem a bit idealistic but Firefox will be fulfilling unmet needs and opportunities by running high grade web apps on a low end feature phones thus delivering a better smart phone experience to a higher proportion of the population worldwide.

Mozilla is planning to make Firefox OS accessible to 2 billion people who have never experienced an affordable, fully hackable mobile OS before. This opens up a multitude of different opportunities to developers in a culture where the governing rules for the ecosystem will be looser which will lead to freedom and innovation.

So what is the ideal market for this? Well, 58 per cent of devices sold in Latin America that cost less than $100. This market is out of reach for iOS or Android but is a perfect fit for Firefox which has a lighter footprint and can act as a vehicle for web apps and low end devices.

In conclusion the killer USP is the software which is optimised for low end devices, where Firefox OS and its apps are one layer closer to the hardware; so less memory and CPU is needed to give the same performance as on high end devices. This could conclusively change the dynamics of the smartphone market as it stands today.