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
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive