Firefox Won’t Survive Just Because It Is Open Source

imagesWebOS was not open sourced until after Leo Apotheker had pulled the plug on HP’s smartphones and tablets. It may have used open source components but that’s not the same thing as FFOS.

That might put a questionmark over whether, by some analysts’ measure, the FFOS phone is truly a “smartphone”, since their definition for that includes “running apps on a native API”. (That’s why Gartner and IDC don’t class Nokia’s Asha phones as smartphones.)

Android apps compile to byte-code and run on the Dalvik virtual machine, they are exactly the same as the apps on NOKIA’s Asha phones. Both have a ‘layer of abstraction’ which is no different to FFOS using Gecko.

Also lots of apps that appear native on Android and iOS are already created in HTML/JS and just run inside a self-contained version of webkit that acts as a runtime.

On the subject of webkit, did you see the lead developer of jQuery said it was riddled with longstanding bugs that they have to work round?

The idea that FFOS’s “HTML5 app” concept gives it an advantage is nonsense; any phone with a browser can run HTML5 apps.

Not necessarily true, FFOS will expose device functionality to Gecko, you wont get that from a standard browser.

It’s what it’s not going to do – it’s not going to spy on you. Mozilla = ethical. Can you honestly make that claim for Google, Apple or Microsoft?

An Anonymous hack of an FBI agent’s computer found evidence that suggested Apple were harvesting data from iOS users and sharing it with the FBI. I can’t imagine countries like China will really want their citizens walking round with mobile devices running closed source, proprietary operating systems from North America.

The EU now has a policy of adopting open source software wherever possible never mind China.

When you were listing the manufacturers who were planning FFOS devices you forgot to mention Huawei, the third largest smartphone manufacturer on the planet last quarter. So that’s Huawei, ZTE, Sony and LG – who all currently outsell NOKIA and BlackBerry.

The number 1 smartphone manufacturer in the world, Samsung, are also working on their own open source, HTML5 based OS called Tizen. Huawei have also expressed an interest in Tizen.

You also need to take into account the carriers are the gatekeepers to the playground. See how quickly they killed Symbian once NOKIA’s CEO released his ‘burning platforms’ press release, the sales fell off a cliff over night. NOKIA went from >30% market share to <3% inside two years.

Carriers are currently not getting a cut of the ‘ecosystem’ and services like VOIP are threatening to eat into their profits, they’re keen to break the duopoly, which is something they seem to have sleep-walked into, and create their own ‘ecosystems’. HTML5 based operating systems will make carrier customisation and integrating services much easier.

Carriers don’t have any say in which handsets they’ll subsidise? Which handsets they’ll offer on their contracts? I think you’ll find they do.

When NOKIA announced their partnership with Microsoft they were very quickly swept aside and replaced with Samsung as the carrier’s favourite. Two years ago NOKIA sold four times as many smartphones as Samsung, now Samsung sells eight times as many as NOKIA. The carriers have spoken.

Meanwhile, the year of linux of the desktop has come as often as Godot, and a new sect has sprung up, trying to find relevance by springing from their dwindling desktop browser presence (100% financed by Google, btw), onto a phone.

The year of the desktop has come and gone. Many prefer a new form of computing device and the overwhelming majority of those are running a Linux based operating system.

Smartphones already comprehensively outsell desktops and the sales of smartphones continue to increase as the sales of desktops dwindle. Linux based computing devices now outsell all others.

And what of the new operating systems being announced?

Firefox OS – Linux based
Tizen – Linux based
Sailfish OS – Linux based
Ubuntu – Linux based

On top of that most of the cloud services these devices will attach to will be running on either a Linux or BSD server, those servers will undoubtedly have Apache (or Nginx or Lighttpd or node.js), PHP and Python on them too.

On the client side in-browser programming is done in JavaScript, a scripting language invented by… Oh, I’ll give you a clue, it begins with Moz and ends in illa.

What do all those things have in common? They are all open source.

Soon your TV, fridge, microwave, car, etc… will also run Linux.

BTW the second biggest OS in the smartphone/tablet arena has also borrowed code extensively from BSD, Linux and Solaris.

HTML5 based operating systems are a natural fit for the future of mobile, cloud connected computing. Google know it, that’s why they’re working on Chrome OS. Samsung and Huawei know it, that’s why they’re working on Tizen. The carriers know it and that’s why they’re interested in FireFox OS.

Mozilla’s skill base, experience and status as a trustworthy, ethical organisation makes them a strong player.

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