Earlier today, we covered the release of the new Firefox OS phone, the ZTE Open. While I’m a fan of competition, I’m not convinced we need yet another phone OS.
I discussed this earlier this year in my post on Ubuntu when I said that app development was already fragmented, and Ubuntu would just add to that. The Firefox OS repeats this.
What makes or breaks a mobile operating system is the availability of apps and more importantly, the availability of the apps it’s users want. I had lunch with a friend today and we talked about the Mailbox app, which I use all the time. He’s on Android, so he still can’t use it, and he made some disparaging comment about “being on the dinosaur OS.” Android fans, don’t jump on me. I don’t think Android is a dinosaur. Far from it. But when users see an app they want and can’t have, it colors their impression of their device and its OS.
I get that Firefox OS right now is aimed at developing markets, and I’m all for making smartphones available to anyone who wants one, so I can applaud the Firefox OS move. I also like that it’s HTML5-based, which, in theory, should reduce fragmentation over time, assuming developers move in that direction and away from developing for a particular operating system. I think this could be a positive thing for the mobile world, but I’ve looked at the Firefox app store, and I don’t think users will be impressed, which could hurt them in their crucial, early days.
I’m curious to see where this goes in the next decade or so. Will HTML5 (or its sequel) take off? Are developers willing to develop for an increasing number of platforms? Or will a new paradigm in app development and mobile devices come along to change our world yet again?