Light Reading
Open source device operating system specialists are desperately courting the mobile industry

Firefox vs Ubuntu: Pick Me!

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
7/1/2013
50%
50%

SHANGHAI -- Mobile Asia Expo -- With their booths just 20 meters apart in the cavernous Shanghai New International Exhibition Center at Mobile Asia Expo, it wasn't hard to see that open source champions Mozilla and Ubuntu share similar ambitions.

Both are working on a low-cost mobile handset operating system (OS) aimed at helping carriers and vendors break the duopoly of the big two platforms, Apple Inc.'s iOS and Google's Android. (See 5 Challengers to Apple & Android.)

Right now, Mozilla has a clear lead with its Firefox OS. The first devices hit the streets on July 2, when Telefónica SA offers a ZTE Corp. device (the ZTE Open) for €69 (US$90) to its customers in Spain. Firefox also enjoys the backing of heavyweights such as Deutsche Telekom AG and Qualcomm Inc.

"Operators want more choice for their users besides Android and iOS," says Dan Horner, product manager for Firefox OS. "In the future we will take this to higher spec handsets, but at the beginning we're very much looking to feature phone users in emerging markets."

The initial phones, from ZTE and TCL Communication (Alcatel One Touch), will hit the stores in Latin America and Eastern Europe in the coming weeks.

One major attraction of the devices is that Web content is immediately accessible. Users don't have to download and store dedicated apps and that's important for bandwidth-constrained markets. Firefox also allows operators to offer their own custom apps, such as the mobile data meter, built by Telefónica (another feature appreciated by emerging market customers).

With a massive developer community about 8 million strong, Firefox has attracted an impressive slate of supporters that includes Telefónica, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) and Telenor ASA -- all of which have numerous emerging market operations -- along with handset vendors LG Electronics Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and contract manufacturer king Foxconn Electronics Inc., which plans to hire up to 3,000 people to make Firefox OS devices.

Ubuntu has a similar pitch. "Operators are interested in new OSs that allow them to differentiate their services compared with what they get from iOS and Android," says Richard Collins, Ubuntu Mobile product manager. "OEMs are looking for things that are cost-effective to manufacture."

The one difference is that Ubuntu is not confining itself to entry-level consumers in emerging markets. It sees mid-tier users in all markets as potential customers. It also puts greater stress on the ability of handset players and operators to customize the user interface.

But these are early days. The first full software release won't be available until October and handsets won't arrive until 2014.

Ubuntu doesn't have Firefox's A-list of backers, either. Collins says handset manufacturers need to feel there is interest from mobile operators before they commit.

But it has just announced a Carrier Advisory Group that includes operators such as Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, KT Corp. and LG, all of which are Firefox supporters. (See Ubuntu Creates Carrier Advisory Group.)

And like Firefox, it has interest from the apps developer community: A recent poll by Appcelerator found that 25 percent of developers were "very interested" in Mozilla and 19 percent in Ubuntu, ahead of other alternative OSs such as Tizen, Kindle Fire and BlackBerry 10.

The operators are hedging, but they're clearly desperate for an OS alternative.

-- Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
greg S
50%
50%
greg S,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/2/2013 | 3:54:46 PM
re: Firefox vs Ubuntu: Pick Me!
Actually could someone explain the point of this whole HTML plan Firefox has I don't quite understand. I believe they are trying to position that it is an advantage because HTML is the future or something sappy but all phones can run HTML 5 applications + a bunch of other nerdy stuff that no doubt have their own circumstantial advantages.
bibliotastic
50%
50%
bibliotastic,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/2/2013 | 9:01:03 AM
re: Firefox vs Ubuntu: Pick Me!
Firefox "developer community about 8 million strong" - this is a bit misleading. There might be 8m web developers but they would not all be capable of building an HTML phone app. And calling describing them as a Firefox developer community is poetic licence.
Indian_Art
50%
50%
Indian_Art,
User Rank: Lightning
7/2/2013 | 7:50:15 AM
re: Firefox vs Ubuntu: Pick Me!
Its a good thing Ubuntu OS & Firefox are coming to mobiles. They have very fresh & innovative ideas.
greg S
50%
50%
greg S,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/1/2013 | 4:37:58 PM
re: Firefox vs Ubuntu: Pick Me!
19 compared to the 25 is actually quite an accomplishment for ubuntu when you contrast its popularity vs Firefox
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Photos: Qualcomm Takes Over San Francisco
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/19/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/16/2014
North KC Says Free Gigabit for All
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed