Mozilla Wants Low-Hanging Fruit with First Firefox OS Phones

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 30, 2013

As we've noted recently, Mozilla, the nonprofit entity behind the Firefox browser and other open source tools, has detailed significant changes to its executive management as it positions nearly all of its momentum behind its new Firefox OS mobile platform. Even the CEO is stepping down this year as Firefox OS becomes job number one.

However, even though some Firefox OS phones are in the wild following the sale of a few of them through Geeksphone last week, it's clear that Mozilla doesn't want too many phones in circulation yet, and is squarely focused on getting developers to buy into the mobile platform.

Mozilla's Christian Heilmann makes all of this abundantly clear in a new blog post. He writes:

"How do developers test on a platform that is not sold in their locale as it would be pointless to add to a saturated market with a lower-spec phone? The answer is developer tools like the Firefox OS simulator and affordable testing devices where you can really see how responsive the hardware with the OS is. And these are the Geeksphones. Having a Geeksphone means you should be working on an app, that is what we need developers to do."

And, in case you were wondering whether Mozilla has delusions about immediately competing with the iPhone and Android phones, check this out from the post:

"Firefox OS is meant to fill a gap in the mobile space and bring HTML5 capable devices in a very affordable fashion to markets that can not get handsets with great web capabilities. In other words, it replaces feature phones, not your high end Android or iPhone."

The fact that this is being said so concretely may disappoint some people who are excited about Firefox OS phones, but this kind of focus is exactly what is needed in today's competitive mobile environment. Mozilla has no hope of diving straight into competing with high-end smartphones at running the best apps. The app ecosystems for the iPhone and Android were years in the making.

Instead, Mozilla is going to target five countries with its first phones, due in June:  Venezuela, Poland, Brazil, Portugal and Spain. It is depending on having some apps built, but not on a fully robust app ecosystem. These phones will be inexpensive.

Heilmann adds:

"I am terribly excited about being able to give real hardware to people who work on exciting apps that will make a massive difference for people who now only can play snake and send SMS on their phones."

His post is one of the clearest signs yet that Mozilla is aiming more for low-hanging fruit with the first Firefox OS phones, not for an instant revolution.