This time last year at Mobile World Congress, we proudly announced a partnership with Mozilla to create a new mobile platform to deliver the first HTML5 mobile devices running on the open web.
We knew that the only way to protect the future of the web on mobile was to deliver a truly open web experience. Mobile Internet was developing in a series of silos, with consumers locked in to a single OS and ecosystem.
A year later and I’m proud to see how far we’ve come. The new platform, which officially took the Firefox OS brand last July, has seen incredible take up across the mobile industry, including the likes of Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia and Telenor (see the full list here in our recent, 24 February release) as well as handset manufacturers like ZTE, Alcatel, Huawei and Sony.
Firefox OS phones now brought to market
Development has moved so fast that this month the first developer preview devices with Firefox OS came to market.
This is a landmark moment in the history not only of mobile but of the very Web itself. The mobile is fast becoming the primary way most people access the Internet. Indeed, in many countries around the globe, mobile access has already overtaken fixed line access. And we want them to do it using the Web like they mostly do in a PC rather than be trapped into proprietary apps!
Firefox OS will save the Web on mobile because it will stir competition on mobile browsers as Firefox did on the desktop, and therefore safeguard the entire future development of the Web as traffic is moving to mobile.
Firefox OS is built from the ground up using Web technologies, allowing every function of the mobile phone to be developed as a Web app and run through a special version of the Firefox web browser that sits on top of a Linux kernel. Making a call, sending a text, taking a photo can all be done by an HTML5 app.
Spurring the developing world to make the move to the mobile Web
The result is a better experience and performance, even at low end price points. And this is crucial if we’re going to get smartphones into the hands of more and more customers in the developing world. Take Brazil, where current smartphone penetration is approximately 14% and only a small percentage of people have the money to buy top-end smartphones from global brands. Yes there are low end Android devices available for $100 but they tend to use older versions of the OS which rapidly become out of date, and often have low performance, cannot be easily upgraded so most of the latest apps do not work, etc
The open web is one of the most important movements we’ve witnessed in the development of the internet. We just cannot afford to forget our history and let the mobile web make the same mistakes that very nearly crippled the development of the internet. Walled gardens kill innovation and no industry can move forward when power is restricted to the powerful few.