Mozilla are releasing a new mobile operating system called Firefox OS. Originally known as Boot to Gecko, named after the companies HTML rendering engine, it is expected to hit handsets in the early part of 2013. It looks like Mozilla will focus on the budget end of the market before trying to make its way through the mid to high end market.
It will be based around an Android kernel but will have one key difference: the entire OS is built in HTML5 and essentially accesses all of the phones features using the browser.
It should work especially well on budget handsets which don’t pack the processing punch that their bigger brothers do. As the OS is built in HTML, the phone will not have a shut down process, it will simply turn off immediately. Once past the initial loader, start up time should be around 3-4 seconds…
This is a significant move. Not only will it supposedly be possible to easily port about 75% of existing iOS and Android apps to Firefox OS (which is supposedly the number of apps which are already written in HTML5) but it shows how far HTML5 has come. It is now possible to develop an entire mobile phone interface using browser language, accessing all of the hardware features available.
It’s unlikely that Apple or Google will be quaking in their boots just yet. Both the Android and iOS platforms are very well established and this move by Mozilla will not be of immediate concern. Firefox are also not as established a name amongst the general public, even if their web browser is popular and well received. I’m sure they will be watching with interest, however.
It is, however, interesting to see how HTML5 is becoming more prevalent. It is starting to become more widely taken up and companies are releasing mobile sites based around HTML5 all the time with more and more impressive features. The native app is hardly on deaths door, far from it (between them, iTunes and Google Play boast 1,250,000 available apps and 50 total billion downloads…), but perhaps web based mobile applications are due to see something of a rise in popularity.
Like this? Why not check out this post about Mobile sites vs apps.