Mozilla and its Plans for the Mobile Web
By Josh Galde | April 16, 2013
In a recent article written by Stephanie Blanchard, she discussed Mozillas plans for it's web-centric approach to supporting mobile. In the article she writes "Back when Microsoft’s Internet Explorer dominated the desktop, Mozilla, an offshoot of Netscape, decided to challenge the monopoly with an open-source browser. After all, the non-profit organization’s core values revolve around one concept — the Web is a common good for society, not to be controlled by one or two companies.
After several Beta versions, Firefox was introduced in 2004. The browser attracted 100 million global users within its first year. Today, Firefox products (including Firefox for Android) account for almost half a billion users around the world.
With the new mobile OS, which debuted at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC), Mozilla’s calling is once again to “free the internet, to create a common set of standards across all devices,” and to “unlock mobile” by giving users a viable option.
“We are fundamentally in the same place we were over a decade ago where it’s being unnaturally controlled by a few parties,” said Gary Kovacs, CEO, Mozilla, at MWC. Indeed, Apple and Android account for the bulk of smartphones, with Windows and BlackBerry fighting for third, or what many industry analysts consider crumbs.
When Mozilla unveiled its ambitious mobile plans back in mid-2012, Telefonica, Qualcomm and Deutsche Telekom signed on as early adopters. Today, the organization has more than two dozen content and service partners, with Alcatel, LG and ZTE committed to manufacture the devices. (Huawei is expected to follow later this year.)
Not surprisingly, Mozilla takes a web-centric approach when it comes to mobile. HTML5 apps exist as a “first class citizen” on the homescreen. Similar to Android, Firefox OS is based on Linux. It runs the Gecko engine for its user interface, with more than 40% of its code written by volunteers.
Although Mozilla expects to continue to attract followers, especially as two billion new users come online within the next five years, the organization says it is not driven by profits, at all. Instead, it wants to be a much-needed catalyst in the mobile space, providing enabling technologies. John Jackson, Research Vice President, Mobile & Connected Platforms., IDC, concurs.
“Mozilla is a .org, so it's not a disruptor in the commercial sense,” he said to Mobile Enterprise by email. “They've always been a source of innovative, community-based enabling technology. But, to be sure, if they see a degree of successful distribution in the mobile market, it will be plenty disruptive.”
Smart or Simple
In 2011, one-third of Americans owned a smartphone. That turned into one-half just a year later. According to the recent iPass Global Mobile Workforce Report, more than 62% of employees now use a personal smartphone for work, a trend that is expected to grow.
Despite Kovacs’ statement of the altruistic mission of Mozilla’s smartphone strategy, there is still a possibility that phones will eventually find their way into the enterprise via BYOD. Mozilla will likely aggressively focus on converting the remaining simple handset users to its inexpensive device.
“More is always more if you're in the business of proliferating an OS platform so I reckon they'll be happy to have you no matter what phone you're moving from,” Jackson replied. “I think the strategy, generally speaking, is to fit into modestly priced hardware, and in so doing, attract feature phone owners who still number in the hundreds of millions.”
As more and more devices are introduced with the Mozilla browser pre-installed the use of HTML5 web apps and hybrid apps will grow exponentially. When utilizing the DeviceAnywhere platform it is important to remember that our devices come with whatever comes pre-installed on the device. Many devices may or may not have Mozilla or be HTML5 enabled so feel free to ask your rep or sign up today for a free trial!
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