The Fox is out of the bag #FirefoxOS

Monday, July 1st, 2013 at 1:42 pm

FirefoxOS has been my main focus over quite a period of time now. I worked with the system, I helped developers port their apps to it and I spend hours and hours writing about it, making demos and talking to the press and anyone who’d stand still long enough (or sit on a plane next to me). Today I got my reward with the FirefoxOS movement going from “Idea” via “Prototype” to “Developer Preview” and now “Launch”.

As announced today on the Mozilla blog Mozilla and Partners Prepare to Launch First Firefox OS Smartphones and by prepare this means adding the shiny bow to the boxes containing phones that end users will be able to buy.

According to the Telefonica blog announcement this will be very soon indeed and the offer is pretty amazing:

Movistar to offer the ZTE Open for €69, including €30 of balance for prepaid customers and a 4GB microSD card.

Not only is the price very competitive, you get a great phone for that:

I’ve said this many times before, but let me now here repeat the things that really get me excited like a 5 year old on sugar rush about Firefox OS:

  • Firefox OS kills the idea of mobile web connectivity only being for the rich in the western world. Yes, for us in the US or the UK having a new shiny phone every half year is not an issue as companies are killing each other trying to underbid the price and offers of the others. But a usable Android that is not generations behind and hard-wired to a terrible stock browser or an iPhone is just not affordable to everyone. Even worse, if you have no credit card you couldn’t even buy apps for them. This is unfair, elitist and plainly against anything the web stands for. FirefoxOS is affordable, and apps can be bought on prepay or on your phone bill and the OS is the browser which means updates are easy
  • FirefoxOS does not assume a fast, stable and always available connection. When traveling I start hating my Android phone which I love to bits otherwise. Having dozens of megabyte updates over roaming is out of the question and neither is using flaky and slow wireless connections. Firefox OS has no native apps – all of them, including the system apps are written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Thus they are much smaller and can have atomic updates instead of having to be replaced as a unit every single time.
  • Firefox OS is the web in your pocket. It is Firefox and nothing else (other than a Linux core to access the hardware). Thus I will not be told to “download the native app” when I go to web sites that are perfectly fine to use.
  • Firefox OS is the platform HTML5 deserves For developers, our HTML5 solutions are finally first-class citizens. We are not shoved into a slower web view and told we can not access the hardware.
  • Firefox OS apps are web distributed apps. Users can go to the marketplace and find our apps by hand or via review or they could search for a certain song, movie, football team and dish and find our app that way. App discovery is as simple as using the web and finding web sites. Instead of having to pay as a developer and be at the mercy of the T&C of closed marketplaces I can publish a Firefox OS app by adding a button and calling the open web apps API. That way my current web site is the ad for my app and all my visitors potential app users.

All of this is obvious to me as a geek but doesn’t mean anything if we don’t get devices in the hands of end users. And this is what happens now – big time! Alcatel, ZTE, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Spain and Poland. The fox really is out of the bag now. And oh how it will roam and run into many other directions. Be part of this, as a web developer, it is the most rewarding platform that will not change from under you at the whim of company goals or shareholder demands.

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