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Mozilla's Firefox OS smartphones do matter -- to developers and buyers

Matt Hamblen | July 2, 2013
'Mozilla was never about taking over the market,' says CTO; Firefox OS should find success as low cost, Web-based alternative to iOS and Android.

Three analysts said the Firefox OS will face a tough challenge catching on in the U.S., especially against higher-end phones. Still, Mozilla is correct in its belief that carriers are looking for alternatives to Android and iOS, especially Android, they admitted.

"Operators are certainly looking for alternatives to Android to lower the level of dependency on Google," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner. "Carriers also want to persuade feature phone users to upgrade."

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates added: " I just don't see Mozilla phones making any real headway, except perhaps in emerging markets where [the lower] cost is an advantage."

In Brazil where he traveled recently, Eich said the iPhone is "prohibitively expensive," making a cheaper alternative smartphone running the Firefox OS more attractive.

Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC, said the difficulties that BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8 are facing show the difficulties facing Firefox OS, still a virtually unknown product.

Firefox OS should scale well to larger screen sizes in tablets, but Eich didn't commit to any products or time frame for a move to such devices. "The tablet is the obvious next choice" for Firefox OS, he said.

He also said games will "look good on the Firefox OS in the next year," as the platform matures.

In addition to Firefox OS offering first-time smartphone owners access to the entire Web at low-cost, Eich defended the platform on the grounds of offering buyers more choices.

"Competition keeps everybody honest," Eich said. "It's bad if there's any single vendor. Now, the market is pretty balanced with an obvious duopoly of Apple and Google. When Firefox OS was first announced, there was intense interest. We felt the time had come."


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