Mozilla, the company behind one of the most popular Internet browsers, is turning up the heat on Apple and other competitors with a new operating system specifically for mobile phones. The non-profit organization behind the free and open source web browser has already received the backing of many major telecom companies. The move represents another level of serious competition in the increasingly lucrative smartphone market. Mozilla currently generates most of its revenue from a deal with Google that makes it the company’s default browser. Here’s a closer look at the new mobile OS waiting in the wings.
Seeing Market Potential
The war for control of the mobile platform market is similar to what went on in the late 1990s as the Internet was becoming more popular and various companies were fighting to become the primary browser for Internet users. The new battleground is the world of mobile communications that’s expanding rapidly thanks to smartphones. There is certainly plenty of market potential left in the world of mobile technology. Mozilla is hoping to make a big splash in this relatively new market with its new OS, set to debut in 2013. From a marketing standpoint, it’s easier to enter the mobile market with a strong product since there’s more potential for growth.
Building Industry Support
The key to any successful venture in the world of technology is support from within the industry. Mozilla announced that they already have the backing of some mobile network operators, including Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, and Deutsche Telekom. Phone manufacturers TCL Communication Technology and ZTE will roll out phones with the new mobile OS in the first quarter of 2013. Broad support from handset manufactures and telecom companies will give the new OS an advantage when it debuts. Google’s Android currently accounts for about 60 percent of the market share. Apple’s iPhones use proprietary iOS software to operate.
It’s Still a Competitive Market
Mozilla isn’t exactly boldly going where no other platform has gone before. Microsoft, RIM and Samsung are already competing for a share of the mobile software market. Other phone companies have tried to create mobile platforms before, but have failed when it comes to providing the extras such as applications and developer tools required to sustain such a platform. Geoff Blaber, an analyst at CCS Insight, notes that momentum and operator commitment are essential to the success of any new platform. Mozilla’s new OS will launch in Brazil through Telefonica’s Vivo brand early next year before being launched elsewhere.
An Existing Infrastructure
Mozilla isn’t exactly starting from the ground up with its new platform. The new Firefox platform will tap into a group of 3-5 million developers with apps already created on the preferred mobile browser standard, HTML5. Add to this the support of several phone manufacturers, and Mozilla clearly has an advantage previous competitors didn’t have. The company also plans to build on its existing reputation as the preferred Google browser.
Mozilla demonstrated some features of the platform earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. Telefonica plans to offer the phones for about $50 less than low-end Android models. While the mobile OS market is fairly new, it’s still highly competitive. Mozilla’s plan to enter the market appears to be well thought out, with plans to ease into the market next year. The support of several major phone manufacturers is another plus for the launch of the new mobile OS. Game on.
Laura Dodge is a freelance writer in San Francisco. She writes for mobilephones.org.uk where you can research the most current technology for cell phones.