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Cellphones Firefox Handhelds Mozilla Operating Systems

Mozilla Drops $25 Smartphone Plans, Will Focus On Higher Quality Devices 90

An anonymous reader writes: When Mozilla developed Firefox OS, its goal was not to provide the best smartphone experience, but to provide a "good enough" smartphone experience for a very low price. Unfortunately, these cheap handsets failed to make a dent in the overall smartphone market, and the organization is now shifting its strategy to start producing a better experience for better devices. CEO Chris Beard said, "If you are going to try to play in that world, you need to offer something that is so valuable that people are willing to give up access to the broader ecosystem. In the mass market, that's basically impossible." Of course, when moving to the midrange smartphone market, or even the high end, there's still plenty of competition, so the new strategy may not work any better. However, they've hinted at plans to start supporting Android apps, which could help them play catch-up. Beard seems fixated on this new goal: "We won't allow ourselves to be distracted, and we won't expand to new segments until significant traction is demonstrated." He adds, "We will build products that feel like Mozilla."
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Mozilla Drops $25 Smartphone Plans, Will Focus On Higher Quality Devices

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  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @01:21PM (#49769179) Homepage

    So why is Mozilla trying to enter into the cheap handset market? This isn't their core competencies.

    It just seems like they're flailing about trying to define the next big thing. And, really, that seems to be a waste of resources.

    This just feels like Mozilla has kind of lost the plot.

    • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @01:27PM (#49769219)

      The problem is that they are essentially rudderless without Google's yearly handouts. If Mozilla had diversified their revenue long ago they wouldn't be in this situation of throwing tons of shit at the wall to see what sticks.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The problem is that they are essentially rudderless without Google's yearly handouts. If Mozilla had diversified their revenue long ago they wouldn't be in this situation of throwing tons of shit at the wall to see what sticks.

        They were too busy firing a CEO because "ZOMG GAY MARRIAGE"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because how else are they supposed to make the money to keep operating, when everything else they try just makes naive, idealistic people stop supporting them? T-shirts and donations aren't cutting it, and they can't operate on zero, especially when they're not just making browsers, but are trying to compete with Google, MS, and Apple on how the web is steered. They need their core team to keep fighting to modernize Firefox, so why not a licensing scheme like FirefoxOS? They've already broken with Google li

      • by nashv ( 1479253 )

        Well, making their browser useful again would be a start. The gap between Chrome and Firefox is hilarious now. There's a good reason why every new browser makes outthere uses a Blink/Webkit derivative and not Gecko.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This is a line that's been trotted around so much since 2008 that I think people just believe it's inherently true, rather than checking for themselves. If so many people out there have noticed how shitty Chrome has become, and how much Safari/WebKit has stalled, then why can't you?

          What's really pathetic is that Firefox truly is usable and useful, compared to Chrome and the rest. It's hardly incapable of doing what the others do, they're even largely caught up to Chrome in terms of HTML5 features and are fa

          • by AqD ( 1885732 )

            12 years and they still haven't solved the memory leak problem. Memory usage easily goes up to 1 or 2GB after a week of use and closing all tabs couldn't fix it. Compared that to Chrome - at least Chrome utilizes a multi-process model which ensures everything gets cleaned up the moment you close a tab.

            The entire Mozilla/Gecko engine is NOT meant to be suitable for integration because they somehow decided it's better to have their own platform, GUI, internal scripting and everything instead of just a core en

          • I'm less certain of this than I was a year ago. In mid 2014, I would confidently assert that Firefox matches Chrome everywhere, and Chrome's multiprocess advantage was irrelevant because Firefox was so stable it did not matter. But this spring, Firefox on Ubuntu has been awful for me. After it's been open for about a day, it starts to hang left and right, even with all add-ons disabled. I had to change my user preference to "When Firefox Starts: Show my windows and tabs from last time" and now I kill t
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne ( 414635 )

      So why is Mozilla trying to enter into the cheap handset market? This isn't their core competencies.

      It just seems like they're flailing about trying to define the next big thing. And, really, that seems to be a waste of resources.

      This just feels like Mozilla has kind of lost the plot.

      Mozilla lost the plot long ago. Their combination of arrogance and incompetence has ruined what was once the best browser around.

      But at least they forced their CEO to resign because he voted against same sex marriage. They've got that going for them.

      • But at least they forced their CEO to resign because he voted against same sex marriage.

        That is soooo not what happened. I'll never understand: If what Mozilla did was so wrong then why can't the people shaking their finger at them be honest about what actually happened?

        He donated $1,000 to have ads like this produced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PgjcgqFYP4 [youtube.com]. We heard about it because his own employees raised the issue.

        Saying he was forced to resign because of a vote he made is just plain dishonest.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @02:07PM (#49769503) Homepage

      Why do this in the first place?

      Unlike the desktop, most people use the browser supplied with their smartphone/tablet. Apple doesn't allow any application competing with their own as far as I know and on Android Chrome is a central part of Google's all-or-nothing package of apps and services. Maybe they think that for once they'll be the default browser on something. Then again, they're not a first party browser on the desktop either so why they need to have delusions of grandeur I don't know. What I do know is that they have zero chance of pulling off a whole mobile ecosystem with apps and everything. Even Microsoft struggle like hell and they have poured billions into Windows Phone, the Nokia buyout and whatnot.

      • Apple doesn't allow any application competing with their own as far as I know

        And what you know amounts to very little apparently. When was the last time you heard anything about iOS? 2009? What Apple doesn't allow is third-party web engines, but they allow alternate webkit-based browsers. There are probably hundreds of such applications in the App Store.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          What Apple doesn't allow is third-party web engines, but they allow alternate webkit-based browsers.

          Are "alternate webkit-based browsers" capable of adding support for HTML5 elements and attributes that Apple chose to leave out of WebKit for iOS? Are they allowed to associate themselves with the http: and https: schemes? I didn't think so.

          • Are "alternate webkit-based browsers" capable of adding support for HTML5 elements and attributes that Apple chose to leave out of WebKit for iOS? Are they allowed to associate themselves with the http: and https: schemes?

            No. Hence why I said that they can't have a third-party web engine. They have to use the system-provided WebKit.

            I didn't think so.

            And I never said they could so I don't see the relevance.

            • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

              No. Hence why I said that they can't have a third-party web engine. They have to use the system-provided WebKit.

              Ironically, Firefox for iOS uses system WebKit as well. This could result in an interesting situation where Firefox on Android runs like crap, but Firefox on iOS runs pretty nicely (still like crap because embedded WebKit disables Nitro).

              As for why, Safari runs with reduced permissions that allow JIT code compiling, embedded WebKit runs with standard (i.e., greater) permissions so JIT code is a se

            • No. Hence why I said that they can't have a third-party web engine. They have to use the system-provided WebKit.

              I intended to ask whether "the system-provided WebKit" could be extended with additional application-provided behaviors for elements and attributes that "the system-provided WebKit" alone does not provide.

          • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

            You may not think (so), but that doesn't make you correct. What exactly is stopping an app developer for using http or https as a custom scheme?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because the people in charge are deranged loonies?

      Look I'm all for there being cheap devices that the poor and starving can afford, but those devices are essentially worthless if the wireless access services are so expensive that they can't even use them. That is the problem with this line of thinking "cheap is better" ... no cheaper is only better when the cost to use it is zero.

      Ask anyone with a high end gamer PC how much it costs them in electricity. They won't know. I can tell you right now that a mid-h

    • Because of the three existing mobile platforms, two have gatekeepers with a veto on what can and cannot be installed. This makes it exceptionally difficult for Mozilla to make mobile browsers with any chance of success.

      This is only not important if you think:

      1. Mobile devices will never become the most common way of accessing the Internet
      2. Android (the sole platform that allows the user and only the user to ultimately decide what's allowed to be installed on their device) will always have a huge mar

  • Law 8 is "the law of duality" - every market becomes a two horse race. Coca-Cola & Pepsi, Nike & Reebok, etc. The horses here are "iPhone" and "Android". The best Mozilla can hope for at this point is to become Royal Crown Cola.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think Mozilla has generally lost its way. I really don't think there is much market for smartphones left with any hope of making good profit. Even Microsoft has basically resorted to the bottom feeder approach because Android and IOS have basically controlled the smartphone market for some time. Even the bigger early giant Blackberry has pretty much been killed off. I really do not know why Mozilla felt the need to enter a very crowded mobile OS market? They could not even get their web browser Firefox in

    • Mozilla is trying to add features to HTML5 to the point that mobile devices don't need native applications and can do everything the user wants in HTML5. At that point, the differences between iOS, Windows Phone, Android, Blackberry, WebOS, and Firefox OS become irrelevant because you can do anything you care about with a good browser on your phone. That is the point of Firefox OS. Not to dominate the mobile device market, but to fundamentally change the way it works so that no corporate juggernaut can d
  • by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @03:14PM (#49769931)

    Quoted from the Mozilla guy's email :

    "We will ship v2.2 and all pending work to deliver entry-level smartphones with our key partners. Additional appropriate feature work will be rolled into Ignite. v2.2 will be maintained as a long-lived branch with security and stability updates only."

    Probably means that cheap Firefox OS 2.2 phones will have a stagnant OS, but if security updates come in with regularity and for years that's precisely what we need. Are other people feeling that way? I don't care that much about how many megapixels and shiznits there are in that thing, I want it to be supported.
    It lacks features though, I hope when they talk of "extensibilty" that will include ways to filter the web. PR about freedom and privacy does not work so well if it's e.g. loading facebook buttons everywhere and they can't be blocked.

  • Why are they wasting their time on this crap? Firefox has still got a lot of bugs and every release it seems the performance drops and memory consumption increases. What happened to the original goal of Firefox to have a lean and mean browser?

  • by spage ( 73271 ) <spage&skierpage,com> on Tuesday May 26, 2015 @05:22AM (#49773443)

    Much of the value of Google's contacts, calendar, music player, etc. on Android is I can access the data from any browser. It's so useful I grit my teeth and share my personal info with evil Google. Firefox OS has its own HTML5 versions of those apps running locally, yet they don't run in desktop or Android Firefox. If the apps did run in every Firefox (and eventually any standards-compliant browser) and Firefox Sync securely kept the apps' data in sync (FF Sync is encrypted, so no one can spy on my personal data) then i would find it pretty compelling.

    That's my 2 cents, it merely takes $20M to implement. I like Firefox, and I enjoy the sync. Having open productivity apps running in a browser fits with Mozilla's mission. I want more stuff running in a browser without spying, because it levels the playing field for Linux and could lead to a lightweight boot-to-browser environment for my phone, laptop, desktop, and tablet. Part of Google has that vision with ChromeOS, but they can't let go of the lock-in and dominance Android gave them. It's depressing seeing everyone piss all over Mozilla instead of supporting an alternative to picking a closed proprietary environment provided by a spying corporation.

    • That's my 2 cents, it merely takes $20M to implement.

      Plus a lot more to operate the data centers needed to store and sync all that data around. For Mozilla to build that they'd have to find some way to pay for it. Given that people are generally not willing to pay monthly fees for that sort of service, advertising is the obvious option. But to make the advertising effective, it needs to be targeted, so...

      • Why not use the web service you want to, and simply use Mozilla Sync to provide the bookmark to it.

        • by spage ( 73271 )

          Why not use the web service you want to, and simply use Mozilla Sync to provide the bookmark to it.

          Because web services spy on you and share or sell what you give them and everything else they discern about you. Firefox with cookie and tracker blockers reduces some of your exposure, but why have any? My calendar, to-do list, and movements are nobody's business but my own.

          • I agree but theoretically there'd be a reputable service, perhaps with a small fee like $1/month, that you would use for that and only that, with web site, mobile web site and Firefox OS application. (The Firefox OS "app" can be just a shortcut to the website at worst).

            Small data, no media etc. (a playlist can be stored as it's kilobyte-sized though of limited use), not even mail.

            I like that on yahoo mail there's a small section where you can simply enter raw text notes and I can put some shit there.. But i

      • by spage ( 73271 )

        That's my 2 cents, it merely takes $20M to implement.

        Plus a lot more to operate the data centers needed to store and sync all that data around. ...

        True. The sync payload isn't that big for the apps I mentioned. Music is a lot to transfer but with de-duping of everyone's identical Taylor Swift tracks it isn't so much to store, though i can't see how you maintain encryption with de-duping. I deliberately left a photo-video app off the list because it's a huge amount of unique data that you do want backed up and your favorites sync'd. So maybe you pay for cloud media storage and only Firefox-sync metadata. Or web apps sync big data with OwnCloud or Freed

        • Even the small payload becomes a big logistical challenge when you're looking at doing it globally, for large numbers of devices and want to make it fast (means having data centers in all regions), and make it reliable (means having redundancy, at multiple levels). Oh, and the "all the data is encrypted" bit may expose regulatory problems, too.

          I really want an alternative to Android, but it's an even bigger challenge than I thought.

          What specifically are you looking for? As an alternative, are there some ways that Android could be improved to alleviate whatever concerns you have? If your concerns

  • Mozilla launched Firefox OS in 2013 with the goal of breaking open the "walled gardens" that confine iOS and Android...

    :
    :

    Mozilla's alternative is to embrace the Web. No matter what operating system a device uses... Firefox OS thus runs apps written for the Web, which in principle means those apps run on any other device, too.

    :
    [auntie Elizabeth returns Firefox phone because she can’t Skype/FaceTime/WhatsApp/...]
    :
    [reality sets in at Mozilla]
    :
    [consumers in emerging markets don’t care about operating systems, walled gardens, lock-in, etc. as long as the phone runs their favourite apps] :

    "To bridge this app gap between user expectations and the readiness of the ecosystem, we will explore implementing Android app compatibility," Beard said

    :
    [Mozilla declares Android’s picket fence more acceptable than iOS’s palisade fence]
    :
    [Mozilla digs foxhole in Android’s not-so-walled garden and declares it open]
    :
    [Mozilla tunnels under iOS palisade fence an

  • by mnt ( 1796310 )

    If Mozilla continues alienating their loyal user base by changing the gui every release without fixing the abysmal multicore performance i guarantee that the user base won't jump on the firefoxOS bandwagon.

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