Mozilla unveils their open source smartphone
Mozilla has been working on their own open source, web standards based smartphone OS for a while now, but this week they unveiled their piece de resistance, an actual honest-to-God Firefox OS smartphone.
“We see an opportunity to serve users by converting them from feature phones to inexpensive smartphones. The action is in the emerging market, not going up against the top end of the market in the US, where Android is chasing Apple.”—
Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich talking to TechWeek Europe about Firefox OS.
On one hand, I think this approach is smart. Mozilla doesn’t have the ability to compete in the high-end of the smartphone market. But the low-end is ripe for the picking, and is going to come into play quickly.
On the other hand, I think it’s unwise to think that Apple and Android are simply going to cede the emerging markets. Apple clearly cares a lot about China. They’ve had some success there, but they need to get a cheaper iPhone on the market if it’s really going to work. Brazil, I imagine, will be extremely important to them as well. That’s going to be a tough call for Apple — just how far into their margins they’re willing to dip.
Android, of course, is the “free” OS, so naturally they’re going after the emerging markets as well. Except that “free” in this case often means paying Microsoft to use Android. Oh and some OEMs seem to want to do their own things with Android in those markets and then Google threatens to expel them from their “open” alliances.
Mozilla renames Boot 2 Gecko as Firefox OS, coming to mobile phones soon
Android, iOS and Windows Phone… and soon there will be one more player, Mozilla. Mozilla has had a mobile phone OS called Boot 2 Gecko for a year, but it’s mainly just been geared towards open source tinkerers. Today, they announced that B2G would now be called ‘Firefox OS’, and would be coming to phone carriers internationally. The first Firefox OS phones will be in Brazil in 2013, with the US coming a little later.
Hacking Firefox OS Apps with Github Pages
While planning a workshop for Dare2BDigital, a technology conference for young women, Lukas and I were looking for an easy way for girls to edit and test their own Firefox OS apps. We were trying to think of where we could host these apps when we decided to try using Github pages.
I’d never actually made a Github page before, but I learned it’s as easy as making a magically named “gh-pages” branch in your repo. To experiment, I decided to test this out on a simple wallpaper app I’ve been working on.
$ git checkout master $ git checkout -b gh-pages $ git push origin gh-pages
And voila! My app showed up at http://leibovic.github.com/mural/. This seems great for development because you can just push changes to the gh-pages branch to update a hosted app. But as a bonus for our workshop, we found you can easily modify the app by hitting the “Edit” button at the top of a file on Github, then committing your changes through the web interface.
Note: After the first push it can take up to 10 minutes for the page to appear. So be patient.
Take a sneak peek at the Firefox OS app marketplace
While Firefox has been offering up Firefox OS to developers for some time, this is the first look at the mobile operating system’s app store.
From what we’ve seen of the current store, it’s a significant break from the top-level storefront we saw back in the Boot to Gecko days, not to mention Mozilla Marketplace on the desktop. The deeper exploration shows a minimalist store that’s focused on quickly delving into individual categories rather than an abundance of highlighted apps.