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Cellphones Firefox Handhelds Operating Systems

18 Carriers Sign Up for Firefox OS Phones 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the attacking-the-market-where-it's-weak dept.
Several readers sent word of a Mozilla announcement that 18 carriers have committed to launching phones running Firefox OS. The carriers are primarily from markets in South America and Europe. They include Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, and Sprint. The devices running Firefox OS will be made by LG, ZTE, Huawei, and Alcatel, and all will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. The new mobile operating system is built to allow HTML5 apps to run directly on the device, a solution Mozilla thinks will give it an edge when playing catch-up to all the software available for Android and iOS devices. "Developers are busy and don't have time to learn a new programming language. We believe that the only remaining eco-system is the web and there are more developers for the web than for any other platform in the world," said Jay Sullivan. According to Reuters, "Mozilla will initially look to compete in so-called 'emerging economies' in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia, where many people still use older phone models and have yet to upgrade to more expensive smartphones that feature touchscreens and high-speed Internet connections."
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18 Carriers Sign Up for Firefox OS Phones

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... but when will the developer phones be shipping?

  • by kc9jud (1863822) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @04:53PM (#42997613)

    We believe that the only remaining eco-system is the web...

    Didn't we already know this? http://xkcd.com/934/ [xkcd.com]

  • And then... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gigaherz (2653757) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @04:54PM (#42997617)
    ... the quality of the average App will be about as good as the quality of the average website. Not like the existing ones are much better, though.
    • good thing averages (like totals) don't matter, and only best-of-breed does, then.

      • The average user knows jackshit about "best-of-breed". He's going to use any trashy bit of crap that amuses him, no matter the consequences.

        "Do you want to run Dancing Pwnies? It is asking for root permissions, user permissions, web permissions, phonebook permissions, and more - granting all these permissions will seriously compromise your phone's security!"

        User says, "Dammit, I just want to watch the dancing pwnies, yes, yes, yes, show me dancing pwnies!"

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          And how is that different from the Dancing Pwnies native app, that the user clicked through the permissions screen on without checking and downloaded?

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Because all they have to do now is find a browser vulnerability and they'll own the entire phone without making the users click through anything? and remember most phones don't get updated constantly like browsers are so basing an OS on a browser is probably not the smartest move you could make. it'll be interesting to see if FF is a small enough fish to not get any major bullseye painted on it or if the malware guys will think its an easy target and hit it with a vengeance.

            remember Android is on its way

    • The SNR level will go up, but now being able to afford a smartphone in a BRIC nation makes that an entirely moot point. Not everyone can afford an iDevice or fancy Droid. On that note; did you know that just half the global population lives on average $2.50 a day. The market for selling stuff is vast. The problem is finding people that can afford said stuff.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        On that note; did you know that just half the global population lives on average $2.50 a day. The market for selling stuff is vast. The problem is finding people that can afford said stuff.

        If they can only affford to pay you $0, it's irrelevant how vast the potential number of customers is.

  • The iPhone killer. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It is finally here. Goodbye, Apple.

  • I believe the snapdragon boards have binary only components.

    Are they trying to reinvent android ?

    • by Myen (734499)

      Pretty sure they're running on Androids guts, so kinda?
      (I think they took out the UI/Java/whatever layers and are using the Linux kernel that Android uses, plus their own UI layer. See info on Gonk [mozilla.org].)

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I find it hard to consider it "Android guts" without all that Java shit. Linux+a few patches+framebuffer+GL...not all that much Android, IMO. Most of Android is the class library.
      • by WillKemp (1338605)

        I think they took out the UI/Java/whatever layers and are using the Linux kernel that Android uses, plus their own UI layer.

        I want that on my phone! That java shit makes the 1.4GHz quad core processor run like a 486!

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @05:05PM (#42997699)

    Unless this is baseless hype, but still, I'm seeing a lot about this one OS.

    I understand operators not wanting to be beholden to an iOS-Android duopoly, but why pick Firefox as the 3rd player ? Are there no other reasonnably OSS, reasonably good, more proven mobile OSes ? MS, RIM, Bada are proprietary, but what about Meego, Tizen, even Ubuntu ? Why not just fork Android ?

    • by Threni (635302)

      Does this constitute `much interest`? How hard is it to run Firefox OS on a phone? I'd have thought the developers of the OS have made sure it'll run on the same sorts of hardware which runs all the other OSes, so it's probably not much work/risk for the phone companies to have a punt. If it doesn't work out then they'll drop it and that'll be the end of that. Some manufacturers are forking Android, and/or skinning it and trying to stand out that way, and many of them produce phones for Android, Windows

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Atomic Fro (150394)

      Why not just fork Android ?

      Because then they would still beholden to the Microsoft tax [computerworld.com].
      Why its Firefox OS, I have no idea. From this article here it sounds like its just doing what WebOS did. And given Mozilla's history, this is exactly something Netscape would do. Thinking like a telecom CEO, I could see them being slightly afraid of Meego as it came from Nokia, and it didn't save them. Firefox is probably something they have heard of and used as opposed to the likes of Ubuntu or Tizen.

      • Because then they would still beholden to the Microsoft tax

        The Microsoft Tax, is about patents...mainly those that concern interfacing with Windows Computers/Services, Microsoft Bully Boys are going to be knocking on your door whatever OS you choose. Although considering these companies are already heavily involved (and successful) with android its unlikely they are not prepared for Microsoft.

      • by jonwil (467024)

        Given that Microsoft has claimed that they have patents covering the Linux Kernel (but refuse to actually tell anyone which patents they are without a NDA) I suspect they would sue anyone in the mobile space using the Linux Kernel if they thought it was worth doing so

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      I would guess freedom over the range of cheap to mid to expensive phones - hardware and software.
      With Firefox you have an easy to write for interface and more open hardware.
      Add in voice, video and text chat via a browser with the same look and feel over the hardware range - Firefox looks interesting on every device.
      Who wants to be trapped in a unique hardware software upgrade cycle per phone, per revision over years of the device been in use?
      Having to do battle with some US OS devision telling you the c
    • by pesho (843750) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @05:51PM (#42998031)
      Runs on cheap hardware, the OS is offered for free and somebody else takes care of developing the ecosystem with no strings attached. So if you are a carrier you can offer a "good enough" smart phone for the price of a feature phone. I bet it will be an instant success in developing countries markets and as a first phone for kids in developed countries (hence the Sprint and DT interest in it). The only serious competition it can face is from Android. It will be interesting to see if Google will bother maintaining android codebase that can run on low end phones or just pay to be the default search engine on the Firefox phones and make money on ads and clicks.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        The expensive part of the phone seems to be the screen and battery. You can get tiny Android PCs withe almost the same specs as a very capable Android phone for $50. If you are offering a Firefox OS phone for the price of a feature phone, then you're going to get the screen and battery of a feature phone, which there are already plenty of Android handsets that exist like this. If you think you are going to get a 4+ inch hi-res display with a battery that doesn't have to be charged throughout the day, you a
      • Also providers will only need to worry about writing changes to the Linux underpinnings (Gonk) for their hardware *once* and then leave all the Gecko updates to Mozilla.
        Instead of leaving their users behind in features, stability and security because they're not willing to provide the resources to update their Android branch, they can theoretically leave most of the heavy lifting to Mozilla.

        Mozilla has truly separated Gonk (Linux) from Gecko and Gaia (the UI) so that updates can be delivered separately.

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Also providers will only need to worry about writing changes to the Linux underpinnings (Gonk) for their hardware *once* and then leave all the Gecko updates to Mozilla.

          So how is that different from running the latest browser on an older version of Android?

    • Meego was (regrettably) abandoned my Nokia, and until Jolla releases anything, it's a dead end. MS has a very poor image, and fails horribly as mobile phone sales. RIM is dying.
      Ubuntu doesn't have any hardware yet AFAIK, and I think Bada is semi-abadoned.

      An Android fork? By whom? Operators have no interest in investing in an OS, they'd rather pick an existing one.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Meego and Tizen are the same thing: stuff that has wandered too long to ever successfully go anywhere. Ubuntu, are you kidding? They have totally jumped the shark with this spyware nonsense, you still trust them? Why not fork Android, now that is the question. Gingerbread is still a credible operating system and lots of apps run on it, so they don't even have to be current about it.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      Tizen isn't done yet I think.

    • Mozilla marketers must be very good. That's probably all there is to it. And then, there is that: http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/News/MostEmailed/1151527/Mozilla-hires-ex-LG-marketer-lead-mobile-launch/ [marketingmagazine.co.uk]
    • by WillKemp (1338605)

      [......] what about Meego, Tizen, even Ubuntu ? Why not just fork Android ?

      Android's crap! (It's been my exclusive phone/tablet OS for about 3 years). It's not worth forking. Meego didn't do much for Nokia. Ubuntu's interesting - but it might be a bit brown for mass consumption. Firefox has made a big mark with their browser, i guess people think that might translate into a usable phone. So long as it starts up quicker than the Firefox web browser does, they could be onto something...

    • For a plain HTML5 website, you should be able to run it well or well enough on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Meego, Tizen, Ubuntu, WebOS and anything else you care to try.

      Where the Mozilla folks are innovating is to make HTML5 APIs, as an open standard, for having the browser interact with the accelerometer, make calls, take pictures, send and receive SMS messages, take videos, and add and remove (HTML5) applications. If this gets widely adopted, then HTML5 applications can supplant native a
    • by breeze95 (880714)

      Unless this is baseless hype, but still, I'm seeing a lot about this one OS.

      I understand operators not wanting to be beholden to an iOS-Android duopoly, but why pick Firefox as the 3rd player ? Are there no other reasonnably OSS, reasonably good, more proven mobile OSes ? MS, RIM, Bada are proprietary, but what about Meego, Tizen, even Ubuntu ? Why not just fork Android ?

      Why fork Android? What's the point in reinventing the wheel. Ubuntu for phones is not available as yet but Firefox is. Firefox OS is going in a different direction than Android, iOS, Windows 8, Ubuntu, etc and may provide a unique experience for users.

  • Clearly, it works? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @05:22PM (#42997827) Journal

    Developers are busy and don't have time to learn a new programming language. We believe that the only remaining eco-system is the web and there are more developers for the web than for any other platform in the world

    You know where I've heard this before, almost word-for-word? It was how HTML5/JS Metro apps were pitched for Win8 on the BUILD conference two years ago.

    And before that, it's what RIM has been saying about HTML5 apps for Playbook.

    And before that, it was the killer feature of WebOS.

    And, as we all know, all of the above are shining examples of a healthy app ecosystem, with thousands of useful, well-written, fast apps in their stores. Right?

    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      To be fair Apple took the same stance pre-Appstore, and they managed to build a healthy ecosystem.
      • by jader3rd (2222716)

        To be fair Apple took the same stance pre-Appstore, and they managed to build a healthy ecosystem.

        The healthy ecosystem was built after they abandoned that stance.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      The basic idea is great (and in a way what Java was purported to be, back when it was first concieved): write once, run anywhere. It runs in the browser, so you don't develop for Android phones or iPhones or Ubuntu phones or whatever. The exact same app runs in any recent browser.

      Now of course it's not an ideal world, and there will be differences between browsers (the apparent lack of a reference implementation and still-not-standard-status of HTML5 is a big issue). I also don't think HTML5/JS is up to the

      • by WillKemp (1338605)

        I also don't think HTML5/JS is up to the task of writing apps as rich as what can be found now in the app stores [......]

        I think it could be - given the right infrastructure and a good API.

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          It could be - but is it?

          I have so far not seen a single web site that comes close to the apps that I have on my phone in graphical features. I'm sure that part of the reason is that when you develop an in-browser application, the general requirements are far different than for say some game on a smartphone.

          The richest in-browser stuff that I have encountered is stuff like Google Docs - and those mimic what you see on a normal desktop. I have never seen anything like say Angry Birds. That I haven't encounter

  • liars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @05:32PM (#42997909) Homepage Journal

    the only remaining eco-system is the web

    Right. Which is why there is about one million apps for iOS and Android.

    The Web is not, never was and never will be the only eco-system. What about the many, many non-web Internet applications? Not everyone uses webmail, and even webmail uses SMTP, not SOAP or REST to deliver its messages. There are calender services, bittorrent, games and thousands of other protocols and services, none of which have anything to do with the web.

    There's a lot that is a website these days, granted. But you are a total idiot if you think that nothing that is not a website exists, that HTML/JS is the only programming language left etc.

    Heck, Apple even tried this already when they released the original iPhone and told us that Web Apps are where it's at and we don't need native apps.

    How about a little more realism and modesty? The web is one eco-system, and a very strong one. Why this obsession with being "the only", this desire for monopoly and dominance? WTF is wrong with being one among many?

    • Re:liars (Score:4, Informative)

      by jbeaupre (752124) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @08:15PM (#42998995)

      I think you parsed that wrong. The qualifier was "remaining." They were being realistic and modest. They realize that that HTML5 apps are the only remaining ecosystem they can influence.

      IOS? managed by Apple. Android? Dominated by Google. They could have started a new ecosystem or tried one of the dying ones. But in the end, they saw that HTML5 apps are their only remaining option.

      • by Tom (822)

        That's an interesting way to read it. I'm not sure it was intended, but it would make more sense.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      the only remaining niche is the web

      I'm sure that's how you should read it (emphasis mine).

  • "Developers are busy and don't have time to learn a new programming language. We believe that the only remaining eco-system is the web and there are more developers for the web than for any other platform in the world"

    Yes, developers are busy writing native applications for iOS and Android, or using some sort of toolkit/engine for portability. HTML5 is an option in all the other platforms too, yet it's not as popular as C++, C#, Java or Objective C. I don't get the point of this OS.
  • by houghi (78078) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @05:45PM (#42997983)

    I want the manufacturers to sign. The carriers should do what they do: be carriers. They should not be hardware and software providers.

    • Agreed. I'm actually curious if these phones will be sold clean or if they'll only be available locked-down by operators, since mozilla isn't mentioning this at all.

  • Less is more (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Blaskowicz (634489) on Sunday February 24, 2013 @06:22PM (#42998279)

    While I'm usually not fond of "web apps", the Firefox OS way of doing web only means you never deal with native apps. Many posts seem to lament this but this lack of a native ecosystem actually is something good for me : I don't want to maintain yet another computer, and be "forced" to carry it 24/7, and I don't want to lock myself into either existing "app" ecosystem. Even if a lock-in to e.g. the Android platform is not a very strong one, it's still a lock-in and has its own complexities (Android 2.x vs 4.x, ARM vs x86, Google app store vs sideloaded apps).

    I actually have no smartphone, If I get a Firefox one it would be my first one. And who cares if I check mail or take text notes etc. in some web interface instead of a native application? I've only ever used webmail anyway, since about 2001. I wouldn't have any strong performance requirements (I am not interested in 3D games on a device that doesn't even have suitable controls) and I think low end smartphones will at least have a single core 1.x GHz CPU, be it MIPS, ARM or x86 and those will be enough to deal with the inefficiencies of running a card game on javascript and showing me pictures and maps in a web browser.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    adblock, noscript, greasemonkey......... ;p

  • > Developers are busy and don't have time to learn a new
    > programming language. We believe that the only
    > remaining eco-system is the web and there are more
    > developers for the web than for any other platform in the world...

    Developers aren't lazy slobs who follow the path of least resistance. Developers who want to get paid will go where the money is. That requires many things; chief among them, a way to collect money. iOS delivers this in spades; Android delivers a little bit. [techpinions.com] Making money with

  • instead of flamboyant saturated colored squares as in Android, Windows 8 or Unity, we have disks! square tiles should be relegated to the bathroom and snooty sushi restaurant tableware!

  • So let's see, what's going on in the mobile world: BlackBerry slowly going under and being replaced by Windows Phone (Symbian is going away, too). iOS and Android continue to dominate the market. Ubuntu is starting to make tablet and smartphone OSes. How does Mozilla figure Firefox OS is going to stand out?
    • So let's see, what's going on in the mobile world: BlackBerry slowly going under and being replaced by Windows Phone (Symbian is going away, too). iOS and Android continue to dominate the market. Ubuntu is starting to make tablet and smartphone OSes. How does Mozilla figure Firefox OS is going to stand out?

      Mozilla is aiming at the low spec smart phone market. Ubuntu has some high mimimum nequirements. While Ubuntu is aiming at high end stuff and the Western market. FirefoxOS is aiming at the developing market and the cheap low powered smartphone range. Personally I'm going to get both.

  • They could stop making OS's that require you to use specific programming languages and go back to the desktop model that lets you program in whatever language you want to.

    I write apps in Linux in C as well as C++, but Ive also wrote a few apps in Python. Others use Perl, Cobol, pascal, Java, asm and many others.

    UDL

  • Firefox does not have deep pockets. So it does not attract patent trolls that much. But it also means, it can not defend itself against a deep pocketed entity that is threatened by its emergence. So it will be killed by the big players if it shows any sign of stamina.

    Wait, wait, I hear you say. We are talking about firefox, firefox the giant slayer who took on IE like David took Goliath! That happened because millions of users faithfully downloaded and installed firefox with great determination and perse

  • The list of developers providing content goes on and on.

    If you’ll permit me a humblebrag, this is all the work of the content BD team, one of the best BD teams around and which I’m honored to say I lead (or I’m the overhead, depends on who you ask.)

    Here’s what some of the biggest developers in the industry are saying about FirefoxOS:

    “Every device is better if it’s social and we’re excited that Firefox OS users will have easy access to the mobile Web-based version of

  • "App" here refers to nothing more than hosted HTML page(s) + manifest.webapp....Or did I miss something ?

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