Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Firefox OS is finally a real thing - but faces a limited road ahead

I'll be honest, when I heard Mozilla were bringing out an OS and even flagship phones to partner Firefox, I didn't take it particularly seriously. To be honest, I still don't.

Firefox is a popular OS, it's not on the same level as Chrome.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share

As you can see from recent stats, Chrome is dominating the market share and thus justifies a Chrome OS. Has Firefox reached this point? No. But still, after releasing their initial prototypes for public consumption, they've now taken the next step.

Mozilla publicly released phones running its new Firefox OS in Spain on Monday.

The ZTE Open and Alcatel OneTouch Fire are very basic phones with 3.5", 320x480px screens (1/4 pixel density of the Galaxy S4). They both have 3.2mp cameras and 1GHz processors backed up with 256mb RAM. (Told you they were basic).
     At least the price reflects that: Telefonica will sell the ZTE Open in Spain starting July 2 for 69 euros. Mozilla, as a nonprofit company, is trying to shake up the typical closed app ecosystems by using open Web standards which it will appeal to Web developers who can start creating HTML 5 apps for the phones.

Mozilla holding a reasonable share in the European or American smartphone market is unthinkable. They would be focusing upon the lower price range, but by doing so they would be running head-first at Android and the specs simply do not match. Not only that, if the rumoured cheaper iPhone is on the cards they'll be running at that as well. Furthermore, with the contract market continuing to grow in Europe and the US, people are willing to pay a bit more per month for the flagships like the S4 or HTC One. So for those reasons, Mozilla are being realistic and are focusing on markets that are still dominated by feature phones, and in this respect are challenging the remaining Nokia and BlackBerry strongholds - whilst also going toe to toe with Windows Phone's targets. Initial locations are reported to be Spain, Poland, Colombia, Venezuela and eventually Brazil but with this you can see Mozilla's ambitions are limited. I just don't see any handset success in these markets translating into the major global smartphone markets.

As a geek, and a fan of Firefox, I love the idea of a Mozilla phone, but that is my heart talking. My head would steer me well clear and I worry that the majority of consumers will agree, even in the developing markets.

What do you think? Would you consider buying Mozilla? Disagree about the phones uptake? I'd love to hear from you.

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