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Firefox OS doesn’t stand a chance (extremetech.com)
18 points by doc4t 1602 days ago | hide | past | web | 27 comments | favorite



"If developers get on board — at least one Mozilla bigwig has stated that they “want to attract hundreds of thousands of developers” — and lots of open web apps begin to appear, then Google can simply implement the same specification in Chrome, Microsoft can implement it in IE10, and Apple can implement it in Safari"

I don't think the author recognizes that that would be a successful outcome for Mozilla; it'd mean that the web truly is the platform, and developers would be able to create an app using that platform and make it available to users on all the mobile OSes. That's cool!

Although I'm pretty sure we'd also like the phones and OS to be successful, of course. :P


Yes, I agree, that would still be a successful outcome. In the last paragraph, I pretty much state that the web is in such a good state today because of Firefox -- I guess I should've explicitly tied the smartphone OS into that sentiment, too.

From a few conversations with various bigwigs at Mozilla, they're definitely not worried about absolute market share. They see themselves as custodians of the web. As long as everything remains open and free, then they feel like they've succeeded.


You have to begin where users needs are being ignored. With Firefox is was performance. IMO on mobile privacy is the topic that's most critical for users and most ignored by vendors. If Firefox OS can fill that space it might have a chance


I think it's a fantastic thing to try, especially if they can really get smooth animation with CSS+JS.

It's quite simple: web developers will flock to build apps for it, because it's 100x easier than learning Objective C or Java etc.

Indeed, I could easily see Firefox OS becoming a "default" choice for low-end smartphone models, just because it would be so insanely easy to drop-in and customize. I mean, just hire a cheap front-end developer and "skin" your model's OS with just CSS in a matter of days. And from there, it can expand upmarket.


I'm not sure if as user I want to use a platform where the apps are written by people who think Java is heard to learn. It's not a simple language by any means, but it's also hardly a difficult language to learn.


Isn't that like saying you don't want to belong to a religion that doesn't force its priests to learn Latin? Dogmatism and elitism can be equally destructive by helping to entrench an inferior platform. I'd rather use one with fewer arbitrary restrictions.


Instead of being restricted to Obj-C or Java, you'd be restricted to HTML/CSS/Javascript.

I'm not sure which is better honestly.


I would argue about frontend developers feeling anyhow inferior to Java/Android developers. It just doesn't make sense to learn entire new platform to ship some random app.

You can't be a good programmer if you are jumping from one technology to another too often. I would prefer to use an app written in HTML/CSS/JS by experienced frontend developer than an app written in Java by someone who just read "Teach Yourself Java in 24 Hours (Covering Java 7 and Android)".


I don't see a single argument in the article supporting the premise in the title. If anything, it points out reasons why Boot 2 Gecko might succeed.

Is anyone so satisfied with their current smartphone OS that they won't bail immediately for something better? I didn't care for IOS, and the list of problems I have with Android is too long to recount here. But I love having a smartphone. It's become an indispensable tool, replacing several others. I just wish it wasn't so clunky and that I had more control over what it does. I'm intrigued by B2G and the (remote) possibility that I'll finally have the same freedom I enjoy with my traditional computing experience.


For me, my biggest reason to love Android is that it is Linux. My phone is rooted. My tablets are rooted. And they all run an ssh daemon and various tools. They're backed up and synchronized via rsync and so on.

To me, to be "better" I need the same control. If B2G delivers that, then maybe.


"There is so much competition in the mobile space right now. Yes, iOS and Android have the lion’s share of the market, but there’s also RIM OS, Windows Phone, Tizen, Ubuntu, Bada, Symbian, Brew, WebOS, and MeeGo — and that’s just off the top of my head."

That's the argument.


FTA: “[It] is because of Firefox and other open-source projects like Apache and Linux that the web, smartphones, and the technology sector in general are so healthy. 15 years ago, as IE6 and Nutscrape fought over various non-standard implementations of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, no one would’ve predicted that today there would be standard implementations of all three.”

I object. Mozilla Firefox 1 came out in November of 2004. Apple Safari 1 came out in June of 2003. By then, WebKit had already been around for several years. In mobile, Mozilla's browsers play little to no role, nearly all mobile platforms use WebKit. In 2007, Mobile Safari was the first decent mobile web browser. It's silly to credit Mozilla with the advances of the mobile web.

“10 years ago, [...] no one would’ve guessed that today you could write a full-blown program with open web technologies and have it run equally well on dozens of different software platforms.”

Let's be honest, that's still not really the case. In the US, 40% of web usage comes from IE. About half of that comes from IE version 8 or lower [1]. I wouldn't say that full-blown web apps run as well in IE8.

[1] http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-US-monthly-201106-201206


Hrm, well, it is Firefox that went from nothing to 25-30% in a few years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Browser_Wars.svg

Yeah, WebKit is old, but it wasn't until Chrome came along that it actually made inroads in Windows browser share -- and let's face it, that was the platform that developers focused on for over a decade, until the recent smartphone/tablet revolution.


>In mobile, Mozilla's browsers play little to no role

If this, is the case, then it won't be for long. I am strongly of the opinion that Firefox is, by a good way, the best mobile browser available (but of course not 'allowed' on iOS).


Firefox OS is a nice idea, but it’s predicated on open standards: Anyone can take Firefox OS’s additions to HTML5 and produce their own implementation. If developers get on board — at least one Mozilla bigwig has stated that they “want to attract hundreds of thousands of developers” — and lots of open web apps begin to appear, then Google can simply implement the same specification in Chrome, Microsoft can implement it in IE10, and Apple can implement it in Safari. Even if you’re worried about the commercial interests of Apple or Google — or if you’re a carrier trying to extricate yourself — there’s nothing stopping you from installing the Android Open Source Project on your phone.

I think this is where the author contradicts his own argument. Do you know how many small businesses can be created on an open platform such as Firefox OS? It let's individuals and small development teams compete directly against Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. It truly levels the playing field, in my view. Or at least, that's what I hope Firefox OS will be capable of.

As a developer and designer, I (for one) can't wait to try out Firefox OS. If it works well, I'll start using it more. And by all indications I've seen, it will probably work pretty well :)


This article reminds me just a bit of these: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2008/10/22/revisiting-the-dumbes...

It certainly doesn't have to turn out that way in this case, but for the sake of the open web and software, I would love to be able to look back at the title "Firefox OS doesn’t stand a chance" and laugh.


Did they seriously use the word "Nutscrape" in this article?


It's extremetech. A gawker-like sensationalist, pageview-driven piece of rubbish.


I don't think that Firefox OS needs to grab a significant market share to be a success, as its goal is really to develop the relevant APIs, and to promote the use of apps written with web technologies. Even a minor success could lead others to adopt their APIs, and with 2 or more implementations, these might reach the W3C.

Where Firefox OS needs to get traction is with the networks, which is the first thing they've done. Anything which can be easily customised (and what could be easier than HTML+CSS+JS? will attract a lot of interest from them).


This article is a troll rant. Sebastian Anthony is clearly neither a market analyst nor a mobile OS expert. He compiled a bunch of a half-thought, smug driven, psudo talking points; slapped on a controversial sounding title and called it a job well done.


One point many people forget is that Smartphone is possibly only one application of such operating systems. There are many more possible applications where Android, Firefox OS etc can be used.


Yes Firefox OS might not catch the momentum the expect it to. But other than using words such as "Hyper-Competitive" the author fails to provide even one cogent argument for why he is so sure that the Firefox OS will fail.

Lot of developers are already excited about this and there are a couple of large Carriers that have already announced their support. Apple or Google or MS could indeed "implement the same spec" (whatever that means) but that would prove to be a good thing.

Not worth reading.


The way I see it is this:

HTML5 still early days so it's like a new games console, get some ok things but not alot of wow as people still finding there feet and what you can do and how best to do it. It's also using more CPU/resources than more lower level of approach's.

Now CPU's/resources get faster and cheaper and the bettery life moves on slowly. So eventualy you get a enviroment were you can run various levels of obfiscation to the raw tin and still give a good user experience.

PROS: HTML5 aint going away, can allow developers to more easily port your applications and as for having to do alot of effort into a development enviroment and IDE then 99% of that work is just done for you with a little documentation needed on your part pretty much

CONS: New, different, still being embraced and in many ways HTML5 is being is the WEB 2.0 promised years ago which ended up being part of the reason Nortel broke (they did some cool stuff ahead of it's time, too ahead sadly). But this time it is the right shoe and the right noise with the backing to work this time around. Though it is a resource overhead Android is a virtual machine so that is kinda already covered by hardware. It's just different for mobiles in many ways, but at the same time logical.

So the way I see it is that in many ways it can't fail, even if it dosn't become the next mobile enviroment, the way things are going it could become a virtual enviroment that runs on any mobile and in that be a sufo application-GUI that sits ontop of Android or IOS or the like. In many ways it helps converge desktop and mobile development and in a way that makes sence with were we are today. So in many ways I see it garanteed to do well, though maybe not as the envorment initialy entended, alot of good will come from it.

Now I'd love a phone that had a micro/dual boot OS in that it booted up in nanoseconds allowing me to do a simple make and recieve calls in a sudo micro-kernel approach and loaded up the fancy gubbins in the background on one of the many cores available to do such things. With this type of mobile OS, such things become alot more viable i feel and in that I look forward to the outcome.

Be nice if you cold just buy your phone and had a choice of the operating system as well, manufacturers pay attention, as for you then you could sell hardware and have another company sell the OS and make all the IP trolls have a harder time blocking hardware over a simple software issue in a OS. I realy wished they would. If you gave the OS away then that would also limit certain types of lawsuits fiscaly as well. Also be interesting when Samsung go we want to be able to sell IOS for our new mobile phone as a option to the free bada/android/mozilla/symbian.... options. Fun times ahead - hopefully.


That depends on what it is trying to do.

Personally I hope it will become possible to run Firefox OS programs on IOS and Android, so that it is easy to write for both platforms but I guess Apple would prevent that as it would destroy one of the barriers to competition.


There are already tools to compile your HTML5 app to a "native" app with JavaScript hooks, etc.

This could just be another one. So while it might not be possible to run them "natively", someone will surely come up with a library so distributing them on the Apple app store will become trivial.


If nothing else, I think Firefox OS will find a niche in breathing new life into 2+ years old Android phones which would otherwise end up on a landfill. At some point soon, WebRTC will become a viable technology, so I see these devices used for VoIP over WiFi, sort of as the free-as-in-freedom equivalents of the iPod Touch.


first of all, what is this extremetech site exactly? it suddenly appears everywhere and the articles i find there are usually of low journalistic quality.

this article is the best example. the author delivers no argument whatsoever to support his/her claim.

" If you imagine a smartphone-sized computer that automatically loads Firefox after boot-up, and the only apps you can run are web apps, then that’s a fairly good analogy of Firefox OS."

- no, this is not a good analogy. although the apps are indeed written in html/css/js they have access to low level apis, thus delivering the same capabilities as native apps currently do on ios/android.

"We weren’t at the meeting when Mozilla decided to make Boot 2 Gecko an actual smartphone OS, but I have a pretty good idea of how it probably went down"

- what follows is pure speculation and adds no value whatsoever to the whole undertaking of proving the article's claim.

"Today, if iOS falters, there are 10 other mobile operating systems that can step into breach"

- No, there wouldn't. Of all mobile operating systems today, there are only two that have a viable developer base, namely ios and android. No other platform has yet succeeded in attracting 3rd party developers to create useful and beautiful apps for its platform (maybe windows phone will step up it's game). So, obviously, the huge advantage of firefoxOS would be the simplicity to create apps for the thousands of talented and motivated web developers out there. How often to you encounter a headline on hacker news that reads "check out me weekend project x which i made because i was bored/wanted to learn some new technology/whatever"? This happens every day basically. Now imagine these people had the possibility to do "weekend projects" with the tools they already master but this time not for the web per sé but for a mobile platform? That is pretty damn exciting if you ask me.

"Firefox OS is a nice idea, but it’s predicated on open standards"

- but? BUT??? If anything, open standards is a good thing.

"Anyone can take Firefox OS’s additions to HTML5 and produce their own implementation [...] Google can simply implement the same specification in Chrome, Microsoft can implement it in IE10, and Apple can implement it in Safari"

- Yes, i can totally see it, Apple et all will give up their control over the app store and let people install apps from anywhere on the web with access to low level apis.

"Mozilla shouldn’t be disheartened, though"

- Certainly not. Especially after this kind of click bait crap.




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