Back in July we brought you news of Mozilla’s new smartphone operating system called “Boot to Gecko”, known as B2G for short. It’s essentially Android under the hood, but with a user interface that’s built using web technologies, so it “borrows” the principles behind Palm’s failed webOS. Now when we wrote up that article it was a bit tongue in cheek since we thought it would never get off the ground, but low and behold it’s actually progressing faster than any of us could have anticipated. There’s already a mockup for the user interface, codenamed Gaia, that’s being worked on by former Google London intern Ben Francis, and the B2G group also had their first virtual meeting last week. They’ve got a roadmap that says they plan to demo their work in Q1 of 2012 and make it available to the market by the end of the first half of next year. Installing it will be a process that should be familiar to those of you who flash custom Android ROMs such as CyanogenMod or MIUI.
Will B2G get any traction once it’s actually out? That’s another question all together, because let’s be frank, no one cares about open source software. People care about products, and if said product was built on open code then great, but it’s not essential. Take Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry portfolio for example. Both have browsers based on open source WebKit code, but no one buys a BlackBerry because it has an awesome browser, quite the contrary, it’s actually terrible. And likewise no one buys the iPhone because Apple is leveraging open source software. When it comes to open B2G isn’t even the only player. They’ll have to compete with Canonical, makers of Ubuntu, who say they’ll launch a complete built from scratch smartphone operating system by 2014.
All we know is this, projects like B2G are built by people who already have full time jobs. It’s a hobby more than anything else. Are you going to take serious an OS that was born as a way for geeks to pass the time?