Firefox OS Phones May Storm the Globe, Not Just Smaller Markets
It's become clear that the next frontier for Firefox is on smartphones. Mozilla's Firefox OS is only a couple of weeks from completion, according to company officials doing interviews at CES this week. What's really interesting, though, is that Mozilla sounds like it may have a broader strategy with the mobile operating system than was previously discussed. Specifically, Mozilla had said that it would focus with its hardware partners on delivering phones in emerging markets. At CES, though, there are reports arriving about plans to sell phones in Europe and possibly the United States.
Bloomberg reports that ZTE Corp. is working with a European wireless carrier to introduce a smartphone in Europe based on Firefox OS. Notably, Bloomberg adds:
"ZTE is seeking partnerships to offer devices with the new operating system to reduce its reliance on Google Inc.’s Android, which dominates the smartphone market with a 75 percent share of shipments, according to IDC."
I wrote a post called "Is It Too Late for an Open Source Challenge to Android?" a couple of years ago which discussed the room there is for competition with Android. This is exactly what ZTE, Mozilla and Canonical--with its Ubuntu for Phones effort--have in mind.
Qualcomm and Mozilla's hardware partners had previously discussed emerging markets in Latin America and other regions as the sweet spots for delivering Firefox OS phones. But ZTE officials at CES have been discussing possibilities for phones in both Europe and the U.S.
If Firefox OS is to be arriving all around the globe in a larger push than was previously discussed, it's going to need a very healthy ecosystem of apps to attract users. Toward that end, you can check out Mozilla Hacks' huge collection of slideshows and videos about Firefox OS, aimed at developers, here. And, you can find many developer-focused videos and presentations available on YouTube in the Mozilla Hacks channel.
It would make sense for Mozilla to subsidize some of the development of key apps for Firefox OS. We can probably expect to see code jams and other efforts along these lines coming soon. And with Ubuntu for Phones coming soon, open source smartphones are going to be a big 2013 story.