& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
December 5-7, 2017, The Intercontinental Prague
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
When Will 6G Arrive? Hopefully Never, Says BT's McRae
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/21/2017
Let's Talk About 5G Efficiency, Not Wacky Services
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/21/2017
Top 5 Tech Turkeys 2017
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/22/2017
AT&T's Lurie Leaps to Synchronoss as New CEO
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/17/2017
Wireless Could Arrive Soon in NYC Subway Tunnels
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2017
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
The Mobile Broadband Road Ahead
By Kevin Taylor, for Huawei
All Partner Perspectives