Mozilla has begun work on a mobile operating system, centered around a web browser and web apps. Currently called Boot To Gecko, or B2G, the OS relies on Google Androud source code for some basic functions such as phone calls, text messages, and battery management. But the mobile operating system won’t run Android apps.

Boot 2 Gecko

Gecko is the rendering engine that powers the Firefox web browsers for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The idea is that instead of Android apps, B2G will run apps created with web development tools.

Mozilla announced the B2G project this summer, and it looks like work is already progressing. According to a B2G roadmap, many basic phone functions are already working, and the team is on track to have B2G ready for developers to use as their primary smartphones before the end of the year.

The goal is to have a product demo available in the first quarter of 2012, along with a web app store and expanded hardware support for things like sensors, Bluetooth, and NFC. Then in the second quarter of 2012, Mozilla hopes to “productize” B2G which is when we could start to see phones shipping with the new mobile OS.

Or perhaps we’ll see a version made available for enthusiasts to download and install on their current phones much the way people can already replace the standard firmware on many phones with custom operating systems such as CyanogenMod or MIUI.

via HotHardware

Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign


Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

Subscribe to Liliputing via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,545 other subscribers

25 replies on “Mozilla’s mobile operating system on-track for 2012 release”

  1. “Apps using web technologies” huh?
    Does that mean they are HTML5 local apps, or does that mean you need a running internet connection to use them.

    If it is the latter, that concept failed in 2007 with the original iPhone.
    Originaly 3rd Party Software was supposed to be “widgets” that relied on web connectivity, nobody wanted those, so apple gave out an SDK for native apps.

    why would you make an OS, based on a concept developers and users rejected 5 years ago?

    1. Probably because that never happened.  You’re confusing a single company with all users and developers for one thing. 

      Besides, if that was the case then Google would have never bothered developing Chromebooks!  You know the OS based on the Chrome browser, which is the same idea Mozilla is going for but targeting Smart Phones.

      Never mind “widgets” are just apps with icon like GUI and can be either native or web based.  Along with the fact Android has been using widgets for years.

      Apple just never developed widgets for iOS but just because iOS doesn’t use widgets is pretty irrelevant as to whether other companies decide to use them or not.

      Besides there are plenty of apps, especially for smart phones, that rely
      on web connectivity.  The bigger deal is aside from the underlining
      base for phone support being based on Android.  This will be like a
      Chromebook and will be running everything from the browser.  So is more than just a custom UI.

      Though don’t think it’ll be all that limited, remember like Firefox they can give it plug-ins, have off-line functionality potential, and like Google they could also opt to develop a native-client.

      1. First of, what Apple originaly called “widgets” is nothing like androids widgets, originaly 3rd party software for the iPhone was stuff that had an icon on the homescreen, that launched kind of an app, but more like a popup rather then true fullscreen, and what originaly made users and developers reject the concept is that these could not interact with anything on the phone or call any iOS APIs but were essentialy limited to pulling data from the web, and displaying and manipulating it, like stocks.

        When there was no data connection, launching them was equivalent to typing a URL into a webbrowser without a data connection – 0% of their functionaly was retained, they would simply do nothing.

        As for Chromebooks, their success is more then arguable, they sell very poorly, perhaps mainly because they tend to cost more then netbooks while doing less, but perhaps because a lot of people aren’t ready to limit their computer use to just, or almost only web services.

        Gmail and Google Docs both got Offline Modes recently as downloadable apps from the chrome app store as a byproduct of ChromeOS updates. Mainly to address the problem iPhone Users had in 2007, Webapps in their purest form, retain 0% functionality if you are not connected to the web.

        If you “enhance” them by giving them an “offline mode” you essentialy build a local app, that synchronises with the webservices database once connection is reestablished, and end up with a local app with online syncing, rather then a webapp again.

        This is what i am asking here to clarify what it is Mozilla is realy pushing for.

        If they are trying to go the route of “all in the cloud, the phone as the terminal of webservices”, like it sounds, then they are pushing for a platform that will be severely crippled in cases where no data connection is available.

        If they take the android kernel to handle the hardware, but ditch androids java based apps, for HTML5 based apps, then they’re just pushing for an additional ecosystem without an inherent benefit.

        When the Web was primarily accessed via (Desktop-)Computers, Mozilla browsers were one way to do so, and Mozilla had real relevance as one of the choices you had for what you wanted your window to the world to be.
        In times where a lot of people connect to the net via Cellphones and make a choice of platform rathen then what software they run on that platform mozilla faces the same problem they did with Windows.
        Most people are content with the default browser their system offers, but rather then lobying to get a Mozilla Browser to be default on any Mobiel OS, Mozilla does a “Me Too!” OS with no real other benefit then “Runs a Mozilla Browser by default!”

        1. Sorry but if most people were content with mobile browsers then there wouldn’t be so much effort to try to develop ever more desktop like web browsers or efforts to run actual desktop web browsers on mobile devices otherwise.

          While it’s irrelevant what early widgets looked like.  They were still widgets.  Those limitations you’re pointing out were just the fault of iOS itself, not because there was a inherent problem with widgets. 

          Such problems were just one of many faults that took Apple years to fix.  Like it took 2 years for them to even add simple cut & paste feature for example.

          Mobile OS are designed to be limited, and especially back then when the available hardware was much more limited than it is now.  Add they were experimenting and Apple was going the route of complete control that prevented things like easy communication between apps.  While Android made it much easier to get apps to work together and thus why Android has been able to use widgets for years.

          Anyway, adding off-line features to Mozilla’s OS will be just as easy for them to add as to the Firefox web browser, which already offers many off-line capabilities and is even though it may no longer be the fastest web browser, people have always liked it for its customizability and support for plug-ins and add-ons.

          While all they really have to do to make it stand out is offer desktop web browser capabilities.  Since no other mobile OS yet supports a browser that works as well as desktop browsers.

          Also like Chrome they could add support for cross platform support.  Since many people already use Firefox, they are likely to make it easy to sync across any device running their software.

          Really, wait and see what they produce.  Mobile OS are designed to be limited.  So there’s always room for another to offer things the others don’t.

          1. No, there isn’t “always room for another to offer things the others don’t.”

            Access Linux Platform/ALP

            Do I really need to list *all* of the mobile platforms that have either faded and died, or just bombed out completely?

            From a technical and/or intellectual standpoint – sure, there is always room for another platform.  Just like OS/2 or Plan 9, or even GNU HURD.  But from a market standpoint – no, there isn’t.  WebOS is perhaps the best mobile OS to bomb.  From a technical standpoint it is on par with iOS and Android, but it was doomed by bad timing and marketing gaffs.

            Anyone can grab Linux, or Android, and spin their own custom version – that’s one of the nice aspects of open source.  But just because you build it doesn’t mean everyone – or anyone – will come.

          2. No, products fail all the time but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for new products.  Besides, if that was true we wouldn’t even have Android now.

            There is no perfect solutions, so there is always room for someone else to make an improvement or find a alternate market segment need to fulfill.

          3. Sometimes there is room – Android – and sometimes there isn’t – WebOS.  You said there was ‘always’ room – and from the market viewpoint that is not true.  It is a complex issue – you need to have the right product at the right time with the right message.  You could have a technically great product – WebOS – and if you flub the timing and messaging it will bomb.  

            In many ways the timing and messaging is more important than the quality of the product.  As long as it is ‘good enough’ if you market it right and hit the market in the right window you can be successful.

            I’ll keep asking:
            What is the market for this OS?
            What does B2G offer to handset makers that Android does not?  What does B2G offer to carriers that Android does not?
            What does B2G offer to consumers that Android does not?
            What does B2G do for Mozilla that they couldn’t do in an Android app?  

            And you can, and probably should, expand those from Android to be Android, iOS, Blackberry/BBX, and Windows Phone.  Additionally, how will they succeed where WebOS failed?

            And the big question – how will this provide return on investment for the Mozilla Foundation?

            The technical issues are really secondary to the business issues for their future.  They aren’t Google, they can’t afford to waste resources on pie in the sky projects just in case they pay off.

          4. WebOS hasn’t yet failed and the problem was mistakes made by HP, not direct issues with the OS itself.  HP just implemented it badly, doing things like releasing the Touchpad before WebOS was properly optimized for the hardware, among other mistakes.

            It’s not really predictable what will and won’t succeed, a lot relies on chance and timing but without taking chances most companies would never be where they are now, including companies like Apple and Google and neither started as big as they are now.

  2. Why?  Seriously, why?

    Do we need yet another mobile OS that is almost certainly doomed to fail?  Symbian, Meego, WebOS, etc. aren’t enough?  Doesn’t Mozilla have better things to invest their resources in?

    This bothers me because it seems like a distraction for Mozilla and dilutes their resources with a project that I really can’t see any need for nor any chance of market success.

    1. Probably planning on ramping up competition with Google’s Chrome.  After all Google already has Chromebooks.  So it’s not like there isn’t a precedence.

      1. But this OS is aimed at smartphones – Android’s territory, not ChromeOS.  And it needs Android’s foundation to run.  What manufacturer is going to pick MozOS – which has no history, no developer base, etc. – when they can use Android for free?  And with Android they get a thriving existing infrastructure.  How is this going to be any different from WebOS, Symbian (which was open sourced and still failed), Moblin/Maemo/Meego (Linux), LiMo, etc.?

        This just seems like a ‘me too’ project.  Mozilla was feeling left out and decided they needed to waste resources developing a mobile OS just to show they can do it too.  Without vendor buy in it is DOA.  Mobile phones aren’t like PCs, it isn’t trivial to change the OS

        Creating a browser for the different platforms makes sense – though I’ve not seen anything to make me want to run Firefox on Android instead of the Android browser – because it is an app that users can install and run.

        I could even understand it better if they *were* making a netbook OS, like ChromeOS.  There is already the ‘webtop’ app Motorola uses on their dockable phones, which runs Firefox.  And it is easier to get a MozBook to market.

        I just fail to see how this is a good business move for Mozilla.  Are they going after the feature phone market, trying to undercut Android?  I don’t think that’ll work either, as Android spreads up and down market.  It is already pushing feature phones out.

        1. Whether it’ll fail remains to be seen but the market is always changing and you should never assume anything for the long term.

          Mozilla has been working on this for quite some time, this is hardly the first time I’ve heard of this project.  While they have been ramping up their competitiveness with Google more recently.  Like the new rapid update cycle for Firefox was mostly to reflect Google’s Chome update cycle.

          While this is presently intended for Smart Phones, it’s still the same idea as Chromebooks, which similarly has a foundation based on linux.

          Though the fact they’re targeting Smart Phone could be seen as a good idea.  It has the advantage over the Chromebook in that it has 3G built in.  While many Chromebooks are still WiFi only.

          All they need to do is bring in similar advantages as Chrome.  While they are also likely to provide the OS for free.  Mozilla doesn’t charge people to use Firefox for example.  Like Google they have other sources of revenue.

          Mind Google has considered porting Chrome to Smart Phones and tablets as well, they just have to consider their Android market first but Mozilla doesn’t have that conflict of interest to worry about right now.

          While Chromebook is an example of a similar product entering the territory of already established products.  Like Chrombooks do compete with netbooks for example…  The thing is they don’t need to replace the market they are entering to succeed.  Similarly Mozilla does stand a chance if they can provide a good enough product.

          Thing to remember, all mobile OS are limited.  Mostly by design as they were intended from the start for low performance hardware and for applications like Smart Phones.

          It’s why it took so long for Android to properly adapt for tablet use, among other examples of Mobile OS limitations.

          The main reason to worry about Android for Mozilla is thus mainly just the large number of apps available.  It’s going take quite awhile to get a large enough database of apps to really make it compete with existing products. 

          Though it’s still possible that it could offer features Android doesn’t.

          The Firefox example you mentioned for Motorola wasn’t running in Android, the Motorola Atrix uses a custom VM of linux to run Firefox.  So it isn’t running the browser natively in Android.

          Basically there’s a significant difference between the desktop and mobile browser capabilities and features. Something for which so far only running a desktop OS can readily fix.

          However that could be something Mozilla could bring with their solution.  Provided they make their solution more like the desktop Firefox than the Android browser version.

          1. The Question here is not wether or not Mozilla can find any Hardware Partners to use their new OS, or if it can take a chunk of the market, but what the consumer has to gain from this.

            What does the MozOS do so much BETTER than the competion, that warrants its existence?.

            I love to take Linux Distributions here as an example…..basicaly anyone can take the linux kernel sources, compile them, and build a Linux distro from scratch around it. They can decide what system files to put where, what kind of packet management they want to use, what kind of window manager they want, what hardware or use cases to target, make it their own.

            Some forgo this aproach and just fork from a popular distro…..
            Debian is a baseline distro, Ubuntu forked from Debian, Badhi forked from Ubuntu..      And in this case, MozOS will fork from Android, to take a foundation and “do stuff differetly they want done differently”

            My question: WHY BOTHER?

            Distrowatch alone lists over 300 “popular Linux Distributions”, there are many more smaller ones out there.

            Instead of everyone and their grandma wanting to “do their own thing”, efforts should be consolidated.

            Firefox on Android sucks balls performance wise. If Mozilla wants Firefox to be a useful contribution to mobile computing, they should improve Firefox on Android OS, instead of doing Firefox OS on Android kernel.

          2. Like pointed out before this really isn’t any different from Google doing the Chrome OS.  All the “WHY?” are the same!

            If you really need me to spell it out for you then the bullet points are…

            -Cloud computing, if anything happens to the device then you just log on with another device running the same OS and you’ll have all your apps and data right there.

            -Everything is synced, everything you have is on the cloud so whatever systems you log onto gives you access.

            -Web Apps can be used on any system running either the browser OS or just the browser.  Like Chrome, you can run Chrome apps on the Chrome browser or the Chrome OS.  So you can seamlessly switch between devices and still use the same app and have access to the same data.

            That last one is even what they specifically point out in their FAQ, to give web app developers the same capabilities as those building for OS-specific stacks.  But because they are web apps they can run on any OS running the Mozilla browser.

            All of which are things Android doesn’t offer!

            While the same arguments against Chromebooks also applies but this is just to point out to you that this is not just another “Me Too” solutions other than just doing what Chrome is doing but for the mobile and tablet markets instead of notebooks.  So they compete against Android instead of Chrome.

          3. Actually Android does offer all of those, depending on how you look at things.  The Android browser is not the same as Chrome, but it shares the same DNA and is quite capable.  I can log into a web-based app from my Droid the same as I can on Chrome on my desktop and it is generally just going to work.

            Now, frankly cloud/web-based apps on my Droid tend to be weak because of the limitations of the device and form factor.  Dedicated apps are just better.  I can access Gmail via the web, but the Gmail app is better.  I can access Google Docs via the web, but the Docs app is better.  The apps just provide a better experience.  But that doesn’t mean you *can’t* use the browser.

            Google is already taking steps to reintegrate Chrome and the Android browser, so that they’ll end up effectively the same.  As device power increases there is less need to compromise on the software.  We’ll probably see full-on Chrome with all the features on Android.  Frankly I always thought ChromeOS was a bit of a waste and they should’ve just made Android-powered netbooks.  And with Ice Cream Sandwich I think the chances are higher.  Some of the Android tablets, especially the Transformer, are already effective netbooks when paired with a keyboard dock/case.

            And there are other browsers to choose from as well – including Firefox.  Which is the real point – they could bring all of this stuff to Android just by providing a better Firefox.  There is no need to build a whole new OS, so why bother?

            I still think it is a waste of resources and I don’t see it succeeding in the market.  And it could hasten Google’s pull out of funding Mozilla, which is a substantial chunk of their revenue.  The more Chrome grows, the less Google needs Firefox.  They’re already pulled out of things like Google Toolbar.  Mozilla will be hard pressed to find new partners who will spend as much to fund them as Google has.  I know they have the new ‘Bing’ version of Firefox, but I don’t see MS spending on Firefox at the same levels.

            I think we could be seeing the beginning of the decline of the Mozilla Foundation as a whole.

          4. Sorry but fact is Android is not a example of a cloud based OS.  At best it’s more like Jolicloud than Chrome.  So don’t confuse things like sync and being able to take advantage of web services with all the features Chrome and this Mozilla OS will be capable of.

            While working from a kernel is not the same as setting up your own custom OS.  Like the Linux example there are basic linux distros and there are more capable and feature rich linux distros.  What the distro is capable of is not limited to just the kernel.

            So working from an existing Android distro imposes limitations they don’t have to worry about with doing their own thing.  Also the Android market is presently fragmented, each release has to be optimized for a who range of hardware and not everyone is on the latest release.

            Meaning you can add the ability for Mozilla to provide themselves their own updates and not rely on Android ecosystem.

          5. I never said Android was a cloud-based OS – I said it could do the same things.  There is nothing magical about ‘the cloud’.  I think ‘cloud based OS’ is a bullshit term anyway.  All it means is web-based applications, but the line is really blurred as these ‘cloud-based’ systems still have offline modes, local data caches, local code caches, etc.  And many of these ‘cloud based’ apps are browser extensions/plug-ins that run locally.  They’re *apps*, they just run within the browser framework.

            But that’s beside the point.  The point is you can do everything a ‘cloud-based OS’ does in a ‘fat’ OS – be in Linux, Windows, Android, Mac OS, etc.  Chome, the browser, can do what ChromeOS does.  Including running most, if not all, of the same ‘cloud-based’ apps.  It isn’t anything special.

            Android could do everything Mozilla’s new OS is supposed to do.  They could get the same features and functionality by putting them into Firefox for Android.  What limitations would they have working from any existing Android version?  Android fragmentation is vastly overblown.  Nearly the entire active Android userbase is on 2.2 or 2.3, which form a broadly similar base.  The APIs are designed for compatibility so one app can run across the different versions.  None of this is a major difficulty for Mozilla in creating a browser platform – it is certainly less work than creating an OS.

            So Mozilla gets more control – I think that’s a BAD thing in this case.  Not because they can’t do it or anything, but because it means they’ll have to carry more of the weight.  Nokia had control with Symbian, Palm & HP had control with WebOS.  Those worked out very well, didn’t they?  RIM has control with Blackberry/QNX/BBX – and they’re just killing it in the market, right?

            It doesn’t matter how good Mozilla does on their OS.  Without vendor buy in to put it on phones, and carrier buy in to sell those phones, it is DOA, wasted resources.  I think they’re distracting themselves with this project when they should be focusing even more on improving Firefox across all of the platforms.  They’re losing ground to Chrome on the desktop and they’re getting locked out of mobile.

            What does B2G offer to handset makers that Android does not?  What does B2G offer to carriers that Android does not?
            What does B2G offer to consumers that Android does not?
            What does B2G do for Mozilla that they couldn’t do in an Android app?

            Those are the key questions, IMHO.  If they don’t have compelling answers – and I for one have not seen any – then this project is at best a vanity effort and at worst a resource sinkhole that will drag them down. 

          6. Sorry but you’re operating with a couple of misconceptions.  First and foremost is Android can not do all the same things as a Cloud based OS. 

            1) You break your Android phone then you lose everything that wasn’t backed up or synced. A cloud based OS means you can just log on to a new device and continue where you left off.  You wouldn’t even need to re-install any apps.

            2) You can’t just switch between Android and another OS and have seamless access to all your data in the same format throughout.  But you can with a Cloud based OS.

            3) Android apps won’t work on other platforms without needing at least a emulator but web apps will run on any platform running the browser and don’t need to be optimized for the hardware. But there are issues with mobile devices that makes creating a full OS replacement for Android a possible better solution  (refer point 8).

            4) Web Apps don’t need to be installed on the device in order for you to use them.  Even Androids web connected apps still require you to install a App, even if that app constitutes little more than url link.

            5) Cloud based OS trades vulnerability of having your device hacked or compromised to having your server hacked or compromised.  Meaning it can appeal to those more worried about certain types of threats over others.

            6) Cloud based OS is more simple to use, operate, and maintain than traditional OS.

            7) Developers don’t have to worry as much about app compatibility with cloud based apps.  All API, etc are all standard for the browser across all devices that it runs on, regardless of whether it’s the browser only version or the browser OS version.

            8) A add on browser also still has to compete for resources with everything else a normal Android install runs, versus the browser being the OS and controlling the resource management itself.

            Add the web apps a Browser OS would be running and that just further stretches the limited resources available for these ARM devices.

            9) There is also the conflict of interest of trying to promote web apps on a device already running Android apps.

            So no, Android is not the same and can’t do all the exact same things because it’s designed to work differently.

            Yes there are similar ways to get the same things done but the approach on how it gets done is the difference and not irrelevant.

            While Mozilla has already put Firefox on a rapid upgrade cycle.  So they’re not neglecting Firefox, but rather expanding just like Google did with Chrome.  They’re just targeting markets Google did not with Chrome because Google already has Android in those markets.

            While there are other even less promising alternatives that are finding their way to actual products.  So don’t assume no one will pick up Mozilla’s solution, especially when it’s free!

            Mind, this in no way means it will succeed but like Chrome it has a chance.

          7. Android CAN do everything a cloud OS does.  That’s not open to debate.  *How* it accomplishes it may be different, but that’s details and in the end the result for the user is the same.  It all comes down to how you use it.  If you use cloud based apps on Android you lose nothing if you lose your device.  It is EXACTLY the same as a ‘cloud-based OS’.  If you do everything in Gmail, Google Docs, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Picasa, etc., then everything is in the cloud.  If you use any app that stores all of the data in the cloud – like Evernote – and has clients for the web, other platforms, etc. – it is in the cloud.  I play around with ROMs on my Droid and I’ve wiped it a few times to re-install.  I don’t have to worry about the vast majority of what I use because all of the data is in the cloud and it is all there when I reinstall.  Even re-installing the apps is simple since the Market remembers what you had and you can simple pull down everything you had before.  There are some things I use that aren’t cloud based, but those are exceptions.

            Going to a 100% cloud-based OS *gains* nothing.  But it *LOSES* the power of local apps.  Cloud-based apps have compromises because they’re in the cloud.

            But wait, there’s more.  Cloud-based OSes – AREN’T.  Because requiring connectivity at all times would be a crippling flaw, none of the Cloud-based OSes actually do.  They have offline modes where all of the data is stored locally and sync’d later.  A prime example of when this is used is air travel, or when roaming to an area without cell coverage – or when you’re out of WiFi range for non-cellular devices.  And if anything happens to your device when in offline mode – you lose anything that hasn’t sync’d yet.  Just like any other OS.

            And the bit about not having to re-install apps on a new device is also BS in the real world.  Because no cloud-based device is 100% cloud based – all of the OSes to date have used browser plugins/extensions/whatever to add functionality.  So when you move to a new device that hasn’t had these installed you’ll either give up functionality – sometimes apps won’t work at all – or you need to reinstall them.  Calling them extensions or plugins and keeping them within the browser framework doesn’t change what they are – apps.  It doesn’t matter if it runs on a Java VM, natively on an OS, or on a browser framework – if it is downloaded code installed and run locally, it is an app of some stripe.

            Web apps being portable is debatable.  There are already ‘web based apps’ that only run in specific browser(s).  And those browsers aren’t always available on all platforms.  There are Crome/ChromeOS apps that don’t run in Safari – so no iOS devices.  There are more apps that sacrifice some functionality when not run in specific browser(s).  I expect this to get worse as vendors use extensions/plugins.

            Android does not require you to install anything to use purely web based apps.  Open the browser, go to the URL, done.  Bookmark it if you want – even add the bookmark to the home screen.  Nothing to install.  I know, I do this.  If just depends on the web based app supporting the Android browser, which is Webkit so it shouldn’t be that hard.  Apps are generally better though – which is part of my point.  When given the choice of a strictly web-based app or a native app, the native app pretty much always wins.  MozOS won’t have this option, so it will suffer compared to other platforms.

            Cloud based devices are still subject to security flaws and hacks.  They still run an OS, they still have local code – and invariably allow the user to install locally executable extensions.  We’ve already seen security holes in all the cloud-based OSes released to date.  They aren’t magic, there will be exploits.  And if you can exploit the device you can access cloud through it as well.  It isn’t a silver bullet.

            As for cloud based OSes being simpler and easier to use – that’s highly debatable.  There have been a lot of comments about user frustration accomplishing tasks on ChromeOS.  It is *different*.  Again, there is nothing magical about it.  There’s no reason a ‘conventional’ OS couldn’t use the same UI conventions as a ‘cloud based’ OS.  So that’s just a red herring.

            Developers *do* have to worry about API compatibility.  Have you done web app development?  I have.  Different versions of the same browser – and yes, that includes Mozilla/Firefox – have changed their APIs, behaviors, etc.  And not always in a backwards compatible manner.  Surely MozOS will have revisions and will change over time.  And not every MozOS device will have the same software – especially when vendors/carriers are involved.  So there will be different versions to cope with – just like Android, iOS, etc.  Again, it isn’t magic.  

            And it remains to be seen if cross platform compatibility is true.  Firefox hasn’t always had the same features across Windows, Linux, Mac OS, etc.  Or between the desktop and mobile versions.  What guarantee is there that the MozOS and a desktop Firefox browser will keep the same API levels?  None.  And app developers will very likely need to include other browsers anyway, so there will always be compatibility concerns.

            I think cloud-based OSes are over-hyped.  People credit them with a lot of things that just don’t hold true in the real world.  We’re shifting toward cloud-based computing, no doubt about it, and web-based apps are capable of a lot, but they aren’t a panacea.  And for a lot of heavier tasks they’re not viable replacements.  There are online photo and video editors, but they’re not going to replace real applications in the near future.  Web based games have come a long way, but you’re not going to have a real local gaming replacement in JavaScript, Flash, or WebGL soon.

            But all of this is secondary.  Presume Mozilla creates a technically sound, well polished cloud-based OS – it won’t matter unless they can get sufficient adoption.  HP threw a lot of money at WebOS and it failed.  Nokia was the top phone maker in the world, and they still collapsed with Symbian.  Microsoft has spent a lot on Windows Mobile and now Windows Phone, and they’re an also ran.  RIM has long been dominant in corporate markets, and now iOS and Android are eating their lunch.

            The same questions I posed last time:
            What does B2G offer to handset makers that Android does not?  
            What does B2G offer to carriers that Android does not?What does B2G offer to consumers that Android does not?What does B2G do for Mozilla that they couldn’t do in an Android app? 

            These need *compelling* answers.  If any of them are lacking, this project fails commercially.  There have been countless technically successful projects which were market failures.  WebOS is a really nice OS – and neither Palm nor HP could make it fly commercially.

            Mozilla can create whatever they want – but unless they get real adoption it is a waste of resources and effort.  So far I haven’t seen any justification for this project other than “because we can”.  What market are they going to pursue?  How will they compete with iOS and Android?  Do they have any hardware partners or are they hoping if they build it, they will come?  (Which is a bad idea.)

            I have no doubt that Mozilla has the tech talent to make a solid cloud-based OS.  I just don’t see why they would.  Nothing comes for free, any resources working on this are not available for something else.

          8. Lots of successful products started with not everyone understanding why they would succeed.  All you really have is your opinion that it doesn’t make sense to you.

            However what I’ve outlined is true.  How things work matter and how they are presented and used matter.  Whether you want to acknowledge that or not doesn’t change that it’s true.

            Otherwise everyone would be using the same OS with the same apps.

            Besides, if you don’t like it no one is forcing you to use it. 

          9. I have no interest in using MozOS, the whole thing sounds like a bad idea to me.

            What bothers me is that I was a long time Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox users, but I eventually abandoned it for Chrome.  Still, I wanted to see them turn things around and restore their position as a leader – and I think this is a bad move for Mozilla.  I think this is likely to be the beginning of the end of them.  They’re losing market share in browsers.  They’ve failed to grab any measurable market share in mobile.  They’re launching new projects while existing projects still need a lot of work.  And they haven’t presented a cogent argument for why these moves are good for Mozilla.

            I think they’re wasting resources they don’t have to spare, and they’re risking upsetting their biggest backers.  Without external backing, Mozilla is dead.

            They finally seemed to realize they’d fallen behind on the desktop and have gotten aggressive about updating Firefox.  But more work remains.  There is also a lot of work needed to polish mobile versions of Firefox.  Those products have large potential markets.

            What is the market for this OS?  What is the appeal over iOS, Android – even Blackberry and Windows Phone?  Just being different isn’t a business justification.  It doesn’t matter what they produce, if they don’t get vendors and carriers on board, it is worthless.  Worse than worthless, it is a detriment.

          10. So this partially breaks down for you in that you are not the type of user who would be interested, but the thing to realize is there’s lot of types of users and many of the same reason something like Chrome is a viable product also applies towards a Browser OS being adapted for the tablet and mobile markets.

            Just because you can’t see who would like it doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for a product.  I’ve already given the bullet points for why it would appeal to some people.  They just apparently don’t apply to you.

            Lot’s of time a product succeeds just because it was released at the right time and place.

            Netbooks for example initially took off because of the slowing economy and the growing demand for cheaper solutions.  It was not the first attempt at ultra portables but it was the first to catch on.

            Conversely the wrong timing can also destroy a product before it gets a chance.

            It just may not seem so random because people tend to remember only certain sides of whether products succeed or fail.  Like how many people remember the first MBA failed?  It took years and a second try before Apple got it right.

            Basically, while Mozilla may not be as big as Google but they’re not sacrificing their existing products for this effort and they have been working years to get to this point.  So they’re not rushing it either.

            You may not be able to see how they stand a chance but lots of products start with even less of a chance and occasionally even the long shots succeed.  So suffice to say it’s possible, even if you think it’s unlikely.

        2. This is a customized android OS  like that on the Amazon tablert. Vendors rather  use this than a straight stock android without  motoblur or htc sense on top

          1. Not quite the same.  The Amazon Kindle Fire still runs standard Android Apps.  It doesn’t have Google’s Android Market, but it does have Amazon’s App Store.  And it accepts side-loaded .apk files for apps.  Mozilla’s OS is just taking the base layers of Android and will not run any code designed for Android.  It is like calling Android Linux.

Comments are closed.