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Telefonica Shows Prototype Firefox OS Phone 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-much-memory-does-it-have dept.
judgecorp writes "Telefonica has added some detail to the Firefox OS picture, following the announcement of phones by two manufacturers earlier this week. The Qualcomm-built handset shown by Telefonica in London ran the HTML5 OS and showed multitasking as well as a range of HTML5 applications. Firefox-maker Mozilla receives a lot of funding from Google, but Telefonica sees Firefox OS as a way to achieve independence from Google. It will be more open than Android, and will run on lower-specification hardware, according to the company's director of products." A common reaction to Firefox OS over the past few days has been to say that it's doomed from the start. But Mozilla's stated goals are to 'promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the Web for users and developers,' rather than to compete with Android and iOS. What do you think they need to do in order to achieve that in a meaningful way?
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Telefonica Shows Prototype Firefox OS Phone

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  • by Infiniti2000 (1720222) on Friday July 06, 2012 @12:28PM (#40565307)
    I'm not sure it's all so doom and gloom like TFA suggests. Telefonica needs a niche, or a gimmick, and this might be the right choice. At the very least, it might be enough to make a respectable ROI before the curtain closes. And, yes, it's fledgling, and being the first on the bandwagon would work out really well if the bandwagon (metaphorically) becomes a limousine.
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      More than a niche, an ecosystem. The good thing about being browser based is that the very web should give one. Of course, in some way that was the reasoning behind WebOS, or Tizen. Maybe the right factors joins at a good time and it is enough to impose that kind of solutions.
      • I think Firefox OS could succeed if it's truly open. Not like what unfortunately happened with Android, where handset manufacturers abandon the phone after one release upgrade, or where they lock the OS down completely, or build their own crapware interface on top of it that you can't remove. (I had an android phone that forced you to use Yahoo for the default search. Seriously?)

        In short, Android was a step in the right direction but it's not truly open. Open is more than "I can see the source". Open should

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Get a Nexus.

        • Open should mean, "It's my device to do whatever I want with." I should be able to do a clean load. I should be able to sideload. I should be able to load non-AM apps without hassle. I should be able to easily upgrade the OS myself. etc.

          This is one instance where the distinction between "open source" (you get the source code) and "free" (to do what you want with it) makes sense.

        • ... happened with Android, where handset manufacturers abandon the phone after one release upgrade, or ...

          That's the problem of doing more than one device per manufacturer. If all manufacturers just could man up and start building just one phone each that problem would be solved. And the problem that all android devices look like pigeon turds (sorry, personal and quite unpopular opinion) could be solved also since design departments could allocate their whole effort into one output. Build quality would start getting higher and all would be good.

          Also:
          If somebody is about to suggest that this would in any way in

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        I just can't see it competing with Android. It will be hard convincing developers to port their apps to yet another platform that only has one or two handsets, and Android runs well on very low end cheap phones (friend of mine bought one for £35 and it is very usable). Plus Android is well supported by Google services.

        Firefox OS might be slightly more open but I doubt phone manufacturers, operators or consumers care.

        • Right from the article, they estimate that 75% of the Android and iOS applications are HTML5 apps. And a lot of mobile websites work well on mobile phones if your internet connection is good enough - I don't bother to install the applications for booking movie times, checking the whether, or checking traffic on my Android phone, I just have bookmarks to the respective mobile websites. I suspect the websites for streaming music from Amazon MP3 or Google Play work just fine too on mobile browser, although
    • Could be. But TFA does not talk about the loads of features that make Android or iOS rich. For example security, extensibility (installing apps from market) and so on. They will have tough time matching lot of goodies existing OS has to offer.
      • by Skuto (171945)

        Security -> The browser already contains a fully sandboxed JS runtime environment since, what, 1995 or something?. They have to do almost nothing there, and it'll probably be actually a lot safer than the comparatively entirely untested Android security model.

        Extensibility -> Pretty sure the idea is to just make as much as possible the "original" webpages more usable on a mobile device, instead of requiring the user to install half-assed "apps". There's already API's for pretty much everything in JS.

        • by Baloroth (2370816)

          Extensibility -> Pretty sure the idea is to just make as much as possible the "original" webpages more usable on a mobile device, instead of requiring the user to install half-assed "apps". There's already API's for pretty much everything in JS.

          That was originally what the iPhone was supposed to do. Didn't work too well for them in the long run. You simply can't get the performance and flexibility of a local app with a webpage, and you won't until you get high-bandwidth non-capped connections and better web standards (WebGL/HTML are close, but not quite there yet).

          • by Skuto (171945)

            That was originally what the iPhone was supposed to do

            News to me, to be honest. But in any case: we're quite some years later now. Maybe the Firefox phone won't be too late, but the iPhone was too early instead :P

            ou won't until you get high-bandwidth non-capped connections

            What? Bandwidth is irrelevant there. If it's bad, both the HTML/JS based app and the native App will suffer. If it's offline, neither of them cares.

            • by Baloroth (2370816)

              If bandwidth is bad, the native application will have trouble accessing anything it needs remote data for, but the app itself will run just fine and remain perfectly responsive (assuming it is properly coded), just as your browser doesn't lag everytime it loads a page. The web app, OTOH, will become unresponsive as soon as it needs to load new code. You can witness this in GMail: if you go to the setting tab, for example, it lags according to the time it takes the new resources to load. It is possible, of c

              • You know, you can run standalone offline applications (the hip term of which I understand is "offline apps") in a browser now.
                Also you know that you can run apps in a browser with OS level rights. Right?
                Also you know that the Mozilla based os provides apis for websites. Right?

            • by ceoyoyo (59147)

              "News to me, to be honest. But in any case: we're quite some years later now. Maybe the Firefox phone won't be too late, but the iPhone was too early instead :P"

              There are more recent examples. Even Facebook's crappy app is much better than their web app was. Google introduced a native API for Android. Chrome OS, and anything that used it, is dead.

              If a Firefox phone doesn't support native apps, it will be DOA.

          • by chrb (1083577)

            That was originally what the iPhone was supposed to do. Didn't work too well for them in the long run.

            But the iPhone was running pure webapps that targeted only the iPhone, so there were some things that just weren't possible, like hardware access, and iOS won't JIT compile Javascript unless it is run in the web browser, so Javascript app performance is poor. Mozilla is developing APIs for doing everything that you could do natively, like accessing hardware etc., and submitting all of the APIs it develops to the W3C for standardisation, which means it's likely that these APIs will be implemented on Android,

    • Re:Need a niche (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday July 06, 2012 @12:46PM (#40565547) Homepage Journal

      I'm not sure it's all so doom and gloom like TFA suggests. Telefonica needs a niche, or a gimmick, and this might be the right choice. At the very least, it might be enough to make a respectable ROI before the curtain closes. And, yes, it's fledgling, and being the first on the bandwagon would work out really well if the bandwagon (metaphorically) becomes a limousine.

      It's doom and gloom since product complexity in the mobile space creeps in SO fast you won't even know what hit you. A phone running nothing more than a lightweight browser which supports HTML5 seems great, it would be fast at browsing and it would basically "do" anything the web site was coded to do... until you ask "where are the contacts stored?" or "why won't my bluetooth headset stay paired?" and then it all goes to shit because all of the developers time is spent dealing with corner cases that each affect 500,000 users (after all, money isnt made in the mobile space until you have a few hundred million phones out there).

      So basically you need to put your cards on the table: Do you go the route of Apple and publish a very polished OS that lacks some very basic features for the first few years until you get your legs under you? Or, do you do things the Google way, and kitchen sink the hell out of your OS with so much whizbang crap that it all crumbles apart between versions?

      • by Skuto (171945)

        then it all goes to shit because all of the developers time is spent dealing with corner cases that each affect 500,000 users (after all, money isnt made in the mobile space until you have a few hundred million phones out there)

        I'm guessing that is how Firefox development already looks right now, they have 300M users or something thereabouts? Compare the "Bluetooth headset disconnecting" to "Firefox leaks memory, oh and I have these 20 add-ons installed".

        publish a very polished OS that lacks some very basic features for the first few years until you get your legs under you?

        Let's hope the restriction to low-end phones keeps this firmly in check. I know loads of people who'd be happy with a cheap smartphone that only has basic functionality (plus web browsing) but not terrible bugs like Android has now...

        • by pmontra (738736)
          300 M desktop users don't necessarily translate in 300 M mobile users. I use FF on the desktop (I'm typing this with FF 13 or whatever it is now) but FF on Android is the worst mobile browser I tried, even it's last version. It's nowhere close to Dolphin HD or Chrome in terms of accuracy of rendering pages, convenience of zooming in and out, font handling. Examples: the white on green titles on /. have a silly slanted font, as if it couldn't find the right one, which all the other browser can. Nested commen
          • by Skuto (171945)

            accuracy of rendering pages

            It's the same engine as desktop Firefox. What you're seeing is that a lot of websites send "Webkit-only" markup to Android devices. (Dolphin uses Android's rendering engine) This is something Firefox can never fix. There's an add-on that makes it pretend it's desktop Firefox, that generally stops misbehaving sites from sending broken markup. I suspect most sites will get their act together eventually.

            I don't see the "slanted font" problem you talk about on my Galaxy S2, so that's rather strange. The "small

            • by pmontra (738736)

              My bad: it was "serif font" (it looks like a Times), I don't know where "slanted" came from. A bug :-)

              Thank you for the hint about the Webkit only markup. That will be hard for Mozilla to overcome.

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                Use the plugin Phony.

                I use it to always get the desktop version of sites on my galaxy nexus with firefox.

      • by caspy7 (117545)

        Surprised you got modded up for how uninformed your post was.
        As one of the other commenters pointed out, and the Mozilla posting covered, Firefox OS is implementing WebAPI which covers the basic features you refer to, such as a Contacts API and hardware interfaces such as camera, compass, vibration, etc.
        (Mozilla is pushing these open APIs toward standardization so other devices (Android phones, tablets, whatever) can also implement them making web apps closer to first class citizens.)

        • Well, in the last week I have been seeing a lot of astroturding on behalf of apple and google being targeted on the Mozilla OS.
          I suppose it is because the development actually makes sense and they are afraid?

    • Actually, Firefox OS is becoming the perfect OS for making your custom ROM on low-end hardware.

      And except for individual hobbyists and tinkerers, it will serve corporate interests far more than any interests of consumers (at least initially). I predict that hotels, casinos, museums, enterprises, and carriers wishing to control and remove functionality from their devices will be the first to adopt this OS.

      • by schnell (163007)

        I predict that hotels, casinos, museums, enterprises, and carriers wishing to control and remove functionality from their devices will be the first to adopt this OS.

        This capability has been present in BlackBerry OS for many years but with much finer-grained control and capabilities (tight Exchange mail/calendar/contacts integration; app restrictions; website blocking; etc.) which is a big part of why it was originally popular with large businesses. Today you can get this same type of functionality on many platforms (including Android, iOS, etc.) by using an add-on Mobile Device Management system from Good, McAfee etc. So while the lack of apps etc. may sound good at fi

      • Not only low end hardware. I can totally see this becoming the de facto tinkerer os now that the pure linux based os solutions (meego et al) have been abandoned.

        If there is one thing Mozilla knows well is to make software that can be expanded by end users.
        I'm hopeful there will be way to load it up on high end devices as well, or that there will be a high end device based on it.

    • The "it's doomed" blog post linked to by the story is actually very ill conceived, misleading and uninformed.
      Also for such a "Hot" article to have only 15 comments after 3 days on the net I would suggest people
      have disregarded it in general.

      Boot 2 Gecko is being flamed very hard lately, mostly and obviously by Google and Apple advocates.
      I hope this much (albeit artificial) bad press won't hurt it.

  • Mozilla is one of the organisation which doesn't try to compete with others, but still strives to improve user experience, to bring innovation even if people care or not. I love Firefox. This new OS is definitely not gonna die like HP or RIM(almost dying) because goals of Mozilla are different from Android, IOS etc.... One more major thing is, it will be completely open unlike androids semi open software. waiting eagerly for their first release in India.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DrgnDancer (137700)

      There's one serious difference that Firefox will have to overcome in the Phone world that never bothered them in the Browser world. Install base. In teh Browser world, people saw the Firefox browser and they liked it. So they downloaded it and used it. Phone OS's aren't like that. i have to find ad buy a phone that has the OS on it. If the Mozilla foundation can't find partners, or if those partners put their OS on inferior handsets, it won't matter how good the OS is. This was on of Android's problem

      • by Skuto (171945)

        It also works the other way around. Mozilla needs to convince people to use their browser and install it on desktop. If you get a Firefox phone (because it comes with the plan or whatever), you don't need to be convinced.

  • If they can make it usable at a lower cost and still run Angry Birds and Netflix and be halfway decently secure, they should have a winner, as long as they can get the rest of the must have apps people want!
    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday July 06, 2012 @01:11PM (#40565867)

      NOBODY expects the Firefox OS! Our chief weapon is usability...usability and a lower cost...a lower cost and usability... Our two weapons are a lower cost and usability...and Angry Birds. Our *three* weapons are a lower cost, usability, and Angry Birds...and Netflix. Our *four*...no...*Amongst* our weapons...amongst our weaponry... are such elements as a lower cost, usability.... I'll come in again.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    IMHO, Mozilla OS and the phones it is stored on will stand or fall on it's promises of better performance and longer battery on low end phones.

    As to the negativity towards the OS. Firstly, about coming to the market too late. If the OS lives up to expectations, there is a niche in the market. It doesn't matter it is in an overcrowded market competing with companies with much larger resources. If they can achieve a low market share, it will be a good thing considering the size of the current market and the g

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      "Coming to market too late" is, in my opinion, a red herring. People could have (and I seem to remember did) said that the iPhone would struggle against the mighty incumbents like RIM and Nokia- and it went on to nearly kill them off entirely. And people definitely criticised whether Android (accused of being nothing but a cheap imitator) stood a chance of competing with the (by now genre-defining) iPhone- and it now leads by market share.

      I'm not necessarily trying to argue that Firefox OS is going to be th

      • by Skuto (171945)

        The main hurdle for late comers would be the apps ecosystem.

        From what I understand they're banking on the fact that writing an app for Firefox OS will use the same technologies as making a webpage, which should make it viable for a huge developer community. Apps for Firefox OS will also run on the desktop browser (and the reverse), which isn't something Android or iOS can do.

        It's an interest situation, for example if you compare to the need to totally recode everything for Android (Java) and iOS (Objective

        • From what I understand they're banking on the fact that writing an app for Firefox OS will use the same technologies as making a webpage, which should make it viable for a huge developer community.

          Yes, especially because that developer community already exists. Even Microsoft has already inadvertently funded the development of a few Firefox OS applications. The HTML5 version of Cut the Rope [cuttherope.ie], for example, already runs on Firefox OS. To make it an installable Firefox OS application all that would need to be added is a manifest file and an install page [rockycode.com]. And similarly for other Microsoft funded HTML5 games like Pirates Love Daisies [pirateslovedaisies.com] and World's Biggest Pacman [worldsbiggestpacman.com].

  • But Mozilla's stated goals are to 'promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the Web for users and developers,' rather than to compete with Android and iOS. What do you think they need to do in order to achieve that in a meaningful way?

    Compete with Android and iOS.

    Sometimes things that aren't your goal are prerequisite to it.

  • Then such a device might be livable. The fact is, it keeps getting worse. Compatible? I keep having to use Chrome to access all features on major sites like AWeber. Stable? It crashes and stalls often. I upgraded to every new version, and it just kept getting worse.

  • I don't think I know anyone that would want a Firefox phone. Maybe 5 years ago, but now the brand image just means memory leaks and bloated browsing. Your perception may vary, but I think the core audience that would support such an endeavor is increasingly turned off by the browser and brand itself.

  • I was a proud supporter of FireFox on the desktop, promoted it all the time....untill it got so bloated that pc's hard a hard time running it, so i switched to Chrome. I still had it on android, it ran slow, crashed every once in a while but it was still my favorite browser, then i tried opera on android. Haven't looked back. I'm sorry Mozilla but you dropped the ball a long time ago, and in this market if your not bleeding edge, your shark bait, and you are getting swallowed up by all your competitors.
    • by Korin43 (881732)

      I was a proud supporter of FireFox on the desktop, promoted it all the time....untill it got so bloated that pc's hard a hard time running it, so i switched to Chrome.

      Firefox and Chrome have pretty much identical performance on the desktop. Recent updates have made Firefox's memory usage much better, and despite loud opinions, it was never actually bad. My guess is that most of the people complaining about Firefox's performance are the idiots who refuse to update after Firefox 3 ("Web browsing takes more memory now, it must be Firefox's fault, not the fact that the web is more complicated now!").

      • Depends on the hardware. On any "modern" desktop, firefox is fast enough.

        Try the latest Firefox on a single core 3.0Ghz P4. Firefox chokes the CPU to death with several tabs open. Chrome runs as smoothly as one would expect for a souped-up 8-9 year old computer - i.e. acceptably fast.

        It's NOT a RAM issue (the desktop in question has plenty) but the threading model. Chrome's separate process per tab really shines on lower end hardware. With the switch to low powered ARM devices, Mozilla has some optimisation

        • by BZ (40346)

          B2G (or Firefox OS, whatever you want to call it) is in fact doing process per app. Mozilla could do that today in Firefox (after putting in a bit of work to fix the existing Firefox UI). The problem is that it would break pretty much every single extension unless you took pains to make them work. But then you'd lose all the benefits when the extensions were installed, since they'd cause cross-process synchronization and blocking.

  • blackberry, i, android, windows, java, and now firefox. all ensuring I loose all my software if I make the wrong choice and wish to move at a later date. All for the low low price of ass raping forced dataplans, and giving all my personal information away to any douche that asks for it.

  • by Skuto (171945) on Friday July 06, 2012 @01:16PM (#40565951) Homepage

    The Betanews article is wrong in almost every paragraph, so let's just point out the biggest hole in the authors understanding:

    Mozilla should stick to where they’re good at, which is the browser market.

    Mobile devices are the fastest growing web clients market. There *is no browser market* on iOS, on Windows 8 RT or on Bada. It's not even fully clear yet if there's really a "browser market" on Windows 8.

    The only way to get a browser market now is to have an OS out, too. The alternative is to die a slow and certain death. Google search money isn't going to keep coming if there's no devices on which Firefox can even be installed.

    There are loads more fundamental misunderstandings in the article, such as the idea that Mozilla will make money on those phones. How can they do that, it's free software... They'll likely just make a deal about who the default search providers are and make money off that. They don't have to care about the margins on the phones at all...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are loads more fundamental misunderstandings in the article, such as the idea that Mozilla will make money on those phones. How can they do that, it's free software... They'll likely just make a deal about who the default search providers are and make money off that. They don't have to care about the margins on the phones at all...

      The deals they're making with mobile operators almost definitely involve getting a chunk of the revenue. Mozilla is seeking funding from outside of Google, since depending on them puts Mozilla in a precarious position.

      Somewhat related, but off-topic, Mozilla's pulling out of Thunderbird development: http://pastebin.com/2HcKLzE2

      • Telefonica has deep pockets and sponsoring Firefox OS to the tune of, say, $10m/annum is a small investment compared to the 200 million person Brazilian market that they hope to tap into with these handsets. They only have to sell a phone to one in every 100 people annually and skim $5 per handset off to Mozilla to recoup their investment. By comparison, doesn't M$ patent troll the major Android vendors to the tune of $10 per handset? :)

        From personal experience, consumer electronics tend to be more expensiv

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      You see, that's the problem with opinionated articles, now very cited in /. Either they say there's no market and companies shouldn't get into areas they don't belong, or they say the company doesn't innovate and deserve to die.

      When the companies say they will change direction, immediately complain saying "it's too late now".

      I wish we could come back to factual articles here, instead of opinionated reviews with heavily biased forecasting (I hope this sounds redundant enough).
  • A little boy jumps into a fight between two big bully boys and wants to whip both of them. It's all well defeating a monopoly, but a duopoly? Any case studies in that area?
    • I doubt they're out gunning for Apple or Google right off the bat. Mozilla isn't nearly as big as either one and I don't see them as being that ballsy. I see it as more likely that Apple or Google will pretty much ignore them at first. A cute, "extra player" like RIM or Microsoft. Well, ok, Apple will take them to court because Mozilla used the same color orange on an icon that they did...but still.
      • RIM and Microsoft "cute"? Actually I think they were Big until cuties Apple and Google stuffed them. Mozilla won't survive a loss.
  • That phone looks exactly like Android but with a slightly different skin. It even has the same four hardware buttons on the bottom like Android 2.x devices.

    http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/telefonica-firefox-os-smartphone-prototype-85340/attachment/photo-06-07-2012-12-11-38 [techweekeurope.co.uk]

    • by Skuto (171945)

      Odds are pretty big that the first phones will be ones originally mean for Android.

    • Not surprising as Mozilla developers prototyped on (Samsung?) off the shelf handsets.

      The bonus being for us regular folk that we can, theoretically, reflash or dual boot Firefox OS on existing handsets - such is the beauty of open source.

  • Having used BlackBerry, iOS and Android I have a few real world suggestions.

    App Market:
    - Don't tie it to any "services".
    - OpenID to log in.
    - Should not have to log in for free apps.

    Search:
    - Dont tie to specific search provider. As much as I like Google, I've found myself using DuckDuckGo lately.

    General:
    - Include native SIP client
    - Don't half ass the native Email client. I like how BlackBerry broke each account out into their own icon.
    - Live Icons - even just little notification indicators on the icon would

  • by acid06 (917409) on Friday July 06, 2012 @02:25PM (#40567075)

    Brazil has a 200+ million headset market, roughly split equally between 4 major carriers (Vivo, Oi, TIM and Claro). This phone doesn't need to be the iPhone or Android killer - it just needs to be cheap and useful. I

    f they're able to get 10% of Vivo's market share, it's a success - I mean, 5 million phones in Brazil alone meanss a lot of phones. I suppose other emerging markets would also have such similar characteristics, so a successful launch here in Brazil would pave the way for rolling this out to other South American countries and then, later, to other Asian emerging markets.

    An current-gen iPhone here costs US$1000. If they're able to bring something that has good usability at a local US$200 price-point, they'll sell a lot of headsets, since the Android phones you can get here in Brazil in the US$200 are only fake Chinese crap (lower-end from Samsung start at US$250-300).

  • Figure out some way to set us free from U.S. cellphone carriers. That is the only way Firefox OS phone could make a difference.
  • by drgroove (631550)
    RIM should abandon QNX, and run either Android, WebOS, or even Firefox OS instead. Maybe Firefox OS is exactly what RIM needs to both go-to-market faster (since QNX still isn't ready, and this arguably is more so) and ingratiate itself with a development community.
    • by accessbob (962147)
      Playbook, and soon the new BB10 O/S already allow for full HTML5 apps, have an app store, and a set of developer tools for HTML % mobile app development. Firefox OS is great and its introduction would only help RIM.
  • that it will not be like ChromeOS.

  • by adcstt (2678429)
    More than a niche, an ecosystem. The good thing about being browser based is that the very web should give one. Of course, in some way that was the reasoning behind WebOS, or Tizen. Maybe the right factors joins at a good time and it is enough to impose that kind of solutions. http://chiasetructuyen.com/@home/showthread.php?t=50820 [chiasetructuyen.com]

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