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Firefox Cellphones Handhelds Mozilla Open Source Operating Systems News Technology

Firefox OS: Disruptive By Aiming Low 286

judgecorp writes "As Apple launches a new slightly-improved iPhone 5, Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich says if you want a really disruptive phone you should look to Firefox OS. It's a low-cost low-end device — and that's the point. It uses standards so should be resistant to patent infringement suits, it will fit on featurephone-grade hardware, and it will run HTML5 apps without the restriction of native apps in an app store. In other words, it's aiming for the next 2 billion smartphone users, people who can't afford the iPhone/Android model." Reader rawkes has some (very warm) thoughts about Firefox OS, too, which helpfully includes both screenshots and a video demo.
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Firefox OS: Disruptive By Aiming Low

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  • WebOS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:01PM (#41341949)
    This sounds a lot like my current WebOS phone.
  • Apple will sue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by A12m0v ( 1315511 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:12PM (#41342041) Journal

    The homepage is a grid of icons with 4 icon dock in the bottom,

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:18PM (#41342113)

    Agreed. Cell phones are cheap as fuck. It's the service that beats you down. I have never owned a smart phone, because while I'm fine paying a couple hundred bucks every two or three yeras for a phone, I'm *not* fine paying a couple hundred bucks a *month* for a plan.

  • Way off the mark (Score:4, Insightful)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:42PM (#41342333) Journal

    From TFA:

    The low-end approach means Firefox OS will run on phones with 256M of memory and a single core 700 â" 800MHz CPU, the kind of system which is underpowered when compared with iOS or Android.

    This is nuts. They're not targeting feature-phones at all... I was expecting something really low-end, with a fast HTML5 interpreter, instead of mobile java. Instead, they're targeting the low-end of current 1st world smart phones.

    Those specs are better than the Samsung Replenish, going for $80 on Boost Mobile or the Alcatel Venture, going for $30 on Virgin Mobile. Those are unsubsidized prices, too, meaning you can go out any buy as many of those as you want, without ever signing-up for service.

    So think of it this way... Do you want some phone specificaly designed for poor people, which doesn't have any apps, or a generation-old Android phone, which is much cheaper because they recouped their R&D selling it in the USA/Europe for years, and because the specs are slightly lower? A device which can run most of the millions of regular Android applications out there...

    It's pretty clear which way to go. Of course cell phone makers are nuts, and will try anything once, because the successes are so damn profitable.

    I think the FirefoxOS guys just know they don't have a product, so they're saying it's for poor people, so they can pretend they don't have to compete with Android, because nobody believes they have a snowball's chance in hell of competing with Android, here or in the 3rd world.

  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:52PM (#41342409)

    Luddite with no data plan here... any kind of data plan that I would consider worth having runs $70+/month - $840/year, I don't really care if the phone is free, I don't want to sign up for a multi-thousand dollar future debt.

    If they'd sell me an iPhone with voice only service and let me access WiFi only for my data, I'd be on-board, even at $600 up front, but between now and retirement, a data plan looks like it might add up to the equivalent of a nice cabin cruiser, or a condo on the beach - is checking Google while you're waiting for the check in a restaurant really that valuable to you?

  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @09:13PM (#41342571) Journal

    And i care about them in the slightest, why?

    Because they're the topic and focus of this story...

  • Re:Apple will sue (Score:2, Insightful)

    by markjhood2003 ( 779923 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @09:56PM (#41342839)

    It's remarkable how many phones copy that lame icon grid from iOS. The first reaction I have whenever I see a phone like that is how dense and cluttered the screen looks, and how little information it actually provides.

    You have to at least give Microsoft credit for coming up with a distinctive UI that doesn't look anything like Apple's.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:03PM (#41342901)
    I'm always struck by how consistently Slashdot comments go extremely negative on new technology. According to Slashdot everything new is already a failure. This is a true knee jerk response.

    This is just like the whining about the Raspberry Pi. It was pronounced an utter failure on Slashdot before it shipped, and they have now sold 200,000 units. Demand is still high enough that there are complaints about delivery times.

    Did it take over the educational market for tiny computers? It's too soon to tell. It has to get into the hands of early adopting teachers first. Then it has to get wider acceptance in the educational domain, which can take time. Even if it doesn't have the impact they were hoping for in education, it can be a success in other areas. Success is success.

    Consider Firefox OS. When it gets going it will be considerably less encumbered then Android. Look at what Google did to Acer when then tried to bring out a smart phone: []. It will also be intrinsically much less vulnerable to the ridiculous patent wars.

    Mozilla has already shown that it can run on the Raspberry PI, which is a very cheep device. I can see an opportunity for a Chinese manufacturer to bring out a dirt cheep smart phone/tablet for their domestic market and not worry about Apple/Google/Motorola or other patent parasites. Since they practice Real Capitalism in China (unlike the monopolistic pseudo-capitalism here in the US) I expect to see someone try this.

    Maybe Firefox OS will be a dud. I honestly don't know. I am very interested to see how the effort turns out.

    I do know that this kind of bashing is a form of public masturbation that is extremely popular on Slashdot. It's boring and stupid. Can't you go somewhere else when you decide to wank off in public?

  • Re:Apple will sue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:34PM (#41343423)

    No money, true. No benefit - well, I'm sure Apple considers "squash all competition" a benefit to them. They really have no need of money, anyway.

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @11:52PM (#41343493) Journal

    This really makes no sense to me. Rendering HTML is not easy nor is it efficient (memory or cpu wise). There are millions upon millions of iPhones and Android devices running with lower specs than 256 MB memory and a 700 MHz CPU, and they are very usable and responsive - EXCEPT for web browsing!!! So in essence, they're taking the one thing that low-end phones do worst, which is rendering HTML, and only allowing them to do that. The alternative is allowing NATIVE applications (and although Android is Java, the NDK allows binaries compiled directly for the CPU, which is what all non-trivial games use), which provides the best performance even on low end hardware.

    Really, in my mind, they have this completely backwards.

  • Users won't care (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afgam28 ( 48611 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @12:48AM (#41343755)

    There's not much I enjoy more than watching their expressions as they go through the various stages of emotion while playing with the devices
    1. It starts with mild confusion — a sort of 'Why have you just given me an Android device?' look
    2. Following confusion is sudden realisation that this isn't Android, it's built using JavaScript
    3. After a short while the excitement starts in a sort of "Holy shit!" mind-blowing moment

    So people get a "'Holy shit!' mind blowing moment" because they realise it was programmed in JavaScript instead of Java? That's only because they're programmers, and they know that HTML/JavaScript has historically had shit performance and a crappy UX. Try this with non-programmers, and they will have no reason to be impressed.

    Users don't give a fuck whether apps are written in JavaScript or Objective C or Java or C#.

    Let's do a car analogy here. Suppose you're at a dealer's lot, checking out a car. You're looking at a car that is totally average. Nothing special, and it even felt a bit sluggish during the test drive. So you're wondering why all your automotive engineer friends are so impressed with it. Then you ask them, and their response is "Did you check out the wiring harness? It's routed really cleanly! And all the drivetrain components are totally modular and extensible!"

    This is what it feels like talking to programmers sometimes. It's astonishing how so many programmers just don't get it.

    Apple got it. When the iPhone was first announced, Steve Jobs didn't get up on stage and talk for two hours about what language they developed the apps in. The iPhone wasn't awesome because it used Objective C. It was awesome because you could hold a web page in your hand and directly manipulate it with your fingers! It was awesome because pinch and swipe gestures made an app like Google Maps possible on a phone.

    What does Firefox OS give users that Android doesn't? All these guys have done is recreate the Android experience using JavaScript. If the users don't know what JavaScript is, why should they care?

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"