Rant: Firefox OS is dead on arrival, you all know that, right?

Can you name a single software project that was backed by a consortium of wireless operators that ended up being a successful product? No, you can’t. So why is it that the internet is going nuts over the news that Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, and Sprint are going to back Mozilla’s new mobile operating system, Firefox OS?

What is Firefox OS anyway and how is it different compared to other platforms? Mozilla is trying to make a mobile operating system that’s entirely driven by web technologies. To put that into plain English, they want to make an OS where every application is written in HTML and CSS. Where have we heard this before? Oh right, back in 2009 when Palm announced webOS. Android apps are written in Java, iOS apps are written in Objective-C, but Mozilla thinks the world should go HTML for what on the surface appears to be ideological reasons.

Let’s say you’re a developer, why would you want to make an app for a platform that has no ecosystem built around it, no central app store, and no way to monetize your work? Say you’re a handset vendor, you’re already struggling with razor thin margins making Android phones, what cost benefits does Firefox OS offer? And let’s just say you’re an operator, isn’t your network being strained because of all those new smartphone users eating up data? Why are you throwing money at an open source software project instead of paying Ericsson or Huwaei or Nokia Siemens Network to put up another cell tower?

Look, competition is great, but what Mozilla is trying to do here is nothing more than one giant experiment. Operators are supporting the project because they want to make it look like they’re good at something other than erecting antennas. They’re pissed Google is building a tight relationship with their subscribers, but you know what?

Tough shit.

  • Manuel Villalobos

    Let me ask you. So what are you expecting  Mozilla to do? Just stand there and do nothing?? Can you blame Mozilla for this move if they want to innovate? And why does it affect you to much for you to rant that way??

    Mozilla is just living it’s vision: an open web for all. And this move is a fulfillment of it’s goal. They want that every devices connected to the internet (desktop, tablet, mobile) is utilizing a common platform for consistent user experience.

    FYI: There is now an ecosystem being build for it. Mozilla Marketplace, a website for web apps, is the central app store that you are looking for. No way to monetize your work? You can bring paid apps to Mozilla Marketplace. Say you’re a handset vendor struggling with Android? Then Firefox OS is a bet. Your lack of technological knowledge is very evident.

    The key to innovation is “try and try.” You will not innovate if you will stick with “tried and tested” only. You should venture out to new dimensions despite the risk.

    Let me tell you a lesson: better try a bad idea than not implement a good idea at all.

    It’s too early for you tell if this project will be successful or not. Time will tell. But the good thing is at least Mozilla tried. Web is the future. HTML5 is the future. So it’s worth investing on in.

    I’m not pro-Mozilla. I’m just correcting your skewed thinking on technology innovations.

    • What do I think Mozilla should do? Fix their damn web browser! No one I know uses Firefox anymore. There was once a time when it was the best browser on the face of the planet. What happened? Google came and made something better.

      Instead of Mozilla competing, they’re **wasting** their effort on projects like this.

      • Manuel Villalobos

        Focusing on one product alone will not save a company. Every businesses knows that, except you. If Mozilla wants to survive, it should expand its product and service portfolio, creating new products, expanding horizons, and finding new ways to generate cash. Besides, Mozilla is already doing it simultaneously, working on Firefox OS while working on Firefox desktop browser and Firefox mobile. And you are saying no one uses Firefox anymore? Look at stats. Firefox is either on 2nd or 3rd place, which is not bad as compared with Safari, Opera and other browsers. Study first before you complain.

        Do you really think it’s a waste of resources? I don’t think so. Besides the platform is just the same. Both Firefox OS and Firefox browser uses the same rendering engine, so fixing one with fix both. Hence waste is minimal. I think it’s a wise move from management standpoint. In the end, the competition benefits us users.

        • The Mozilla Foundation is a non-profit, you should do some research. You also have to admit that once upon a time they built a great product, got complacent, and then started losing market share. Instead of fixing that one product that they screwed up in the first place, they’re “expanding horizons”.

          Does that sound like a winning game plan? No.

          • Manuel Villalobos

            Firefox is perhaps losing some market but the decline is not that bad. In fact, Firefox regained market share for June according to Net Applications. There is still significant distance with Safari and Opera. As of now, market share is just at par with Chrome. So desktop area is still okay. Also, the very reason why they create products for mobile is to expand market share. If they sit back, they will lose more to likes of Google who already have Chrome for iOS and Android. So Mozilla needs to fight back. You may say that Firefox is losing market share, but that may be the exact reason why they need to expand to mobile, to regain and broaden user base. Sticking to desktop alone is even more complacent, isn’t it?

            Also, FYI. I long know that Mozilla is non-profit. But even though Mozilla is non-profit, it still has to generate funds. That’s why they have partnerships with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and other search engines and websites, so that every time users will search using Firefox, the search engine will pay Mozilla. Relying on this as sole method of generating cash is not sufficient and more risky. That’s why other ventures are needed. And the emerging market now is mobile so it’s reasonable to go there.

          • Creating a platform at the cost of ignoring your main product just doesn’t make ANY sense.

            If I was Mozilla, this chart would freak me out: http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-ww-monthly-200809-201206

            Spreading yourself too thin is one of many ways to kill a company.

          • Manuel Villalobos

            Every browser stats vary. Each have their own samples, so you cannot really rely on one stats alone. Besides, so what it Firefox lose market share before? Will that stop Firefox from innovating? As I repeatedly said, losing market share is exactly the reason and requirement for them to expand.

            Ok, let’s say they improved and “fixed” Firefox first as what you suggested. Can you give me a guarantee that people will go back to Firefox? If they improve Firefox, Google and other browsers will definitely fight back. So focusing only on Firefox browser will not necessarily mean Mozilla will be saved. The risk is too high from business’ perspective. There is a saying, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

            Also, by the time they “fix” Firefox browser, Google and Apple are already dominating the mobile area. If that happen, then it will be more difficult for Mozilla to enter into mobile market later on. Better come early than even later after that. You may say mobile market is now conquered by Apple and Google, but the opportunity is still huge and there are still unpenetrated niche markets for mobile. Mozilla is already positioning for that market.

          • Manuel Villalobos

            Also, who say’s Mozilla is ignoring their main product? Think again. Improvements are already along the way. Firefox browser is already in version 13, with new improvements every 6 weeks. They are improving Firefox browser in parallel with other products. Also, their backend/core engine (gecko) are just similar across their products, so having many products is not a disadvantage.

          • If they don’t fix their browser, and continue losing market share, then why would someone want to install their browser on their mobile device? The internet went wild over Chrome for iOS, despite it being nothing more than a skin for Safari!

            The same can’t be said over Firefox for Android (flop) and I can’t even remember the last time there was a desktop version of Firefox that people actually said “you know what, this will get me to switch back!”

            All I’m saying is that they need to create one insanely good product, a desktop browser, and then worry about everything else.

          • Anonymous

            Do you have any specific complaints or are you just raging for no reason?

            There is so much goodness coming through firefox right now.

            Their browser is in no way “broken” just needs to do a bit of catching up in a few areas.

            A year ago users were complaining about memory and speed.  Now firefox has the best memory usage and is almost tied in speed.

            Their mobile products can only benefit their desktop versions as mozilla  is forced to focus on performance even more now.

          • Stefan_is_a_twat

             Gawd, you’re a twat!! When was the last time you actually used FF?

          • Caspar MacRae

             Definition of “rant” – wild, incoherent, emotional articulation.

            Before I criticize stuff I generally try it out – you know, download, build/install, use.  That at least gives me subjective criticism.

            People who have strong opinions on things they’ve no experience with, often get slated.

            There’s nothing factual in this post, just heaps of opinion and assumption – that doesn’t make good a good blog post and certainly isn’t journalism.


          • Recursivision

            What IS your problem with Firefox? You don’t seem to be able to list any actual gripes.

            I’ve tried switching to chrome multiple times now, and it’s nice; don’t get me wrong. It looks and feels pretty snappy and has a couple cool features. However, it never can match the versatility and privacy of Firefox in my opinion.

            Google Chrome is what we would have called spyware not too long ago, but I understand that’s not everybody’s concern. Furthermore, as far as add-ons go Firefox is a clear winner.

            To me, I see Firefox as the power user’s browser, whereas, I see chrome excelling in terms a simple but responsive browser that is easily understood even by those who aren’t tehno-savvy. I mean come on, grandpa can’t even search Google or check his  Gmail without Google trying to foist their browser on him.

            And Google is always going to win in terms of marketing. There is just no way for Firefox to get an edge in in that respect. The other thing is, Mozilla doesn’t NEED to dominate the mobile phone market; it’s not a winner takes all system. They’ll do decent in developing markets and challenge the proprietary smartphone market to innovate on a whole new level.

        • “Focusing on one product alone will not save a company.”
          Hmm, Apple focused on 4 products, if I remember correctly, and they’re “kinda” successful. If the product is so much better, it’s worth investing in it. Firefox just isn’t better anymore.

  • “Can you name a single software project that was backed by a consortium of wireless operators that ended up being a successful product?”… Umm yeah, I can! ever heard of the Open Handset Alliance? they back this little thing called Android that seems to be enjoying some moderate success 😉

  • Single software project, backed by consortium of wireless operators,ended up successful? Why not:
    SMS, MMS, EDGE, 3G, and if VZW is an indication, LTE isn’t far behind.

    Name a platform that’s been backed by wireless operators, and successful:
    JAVA, carrier billing/ISIS (ok, am stretching there), WAP, iMode, mobile wallet (Japan ad SK don’t seem to have an issue here)

    Ok. Just picking at you. And yes, those companies whom are jumpi in with Mozilla here are the usual ones pitching something new against the wall. But, if there is something to change towards the idea of web as a platform, this isn’t a bad idea, and is probably inevitable. The better question is what does Firefox OS do which changes the playing field for mobile platforms in a way that makes sense or doesn’t make sense for carriers? If that’s not answered, no amount of “every screen has ‘view source’ commands on it” matters at all.

  • Matti

    I for one, do hope Mozilla do succeed. Open Source would not enjoy the marketshare it has today if not for Mozilla’s past efforts. HTML5 does need a lot of work in some areas, but I believe it can be done. I want a non-bastardized Linux mobile OS.

  • Anonymous

    I think their core strategy is to allow you to build applications that will work on various mobile platforms. You should be able to run any application for ‘Firefox OS’ on any device that supports Firefox itself, and soon any device that supports the device APIs (if W3C passes them into the spec).

    I think it’s too soon to say who will win. Many people will use it just because it’s a bit faster than Android, especially if it could run on obsolete phones that can only run Gingerbread.

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