Device operating systems

An Alternative to iOS & Android?

5:00 AM -- Last week seemed to give more indications of the ascendancy of the new kings of mobile -- Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) -- in the operating system and device spheres.

Rival BlackBerry is struggling to bring out its competing BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system upgrade and confirmed that it has to cut 5,000 jobs. Google, meanwhile, breezed out with a mobile OS update for its first own-brand tablet.

But we might be seeing some movement in mobile operating systems, as Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) back Mozilla 's Firefox mobile OS.

On the face of it, the OS has features that vendors and carriers like: It's open-source, license-free and runs cross-platform because it is based on HTML5.

It's not quite that simple, as a reader points out: HTML5 support is not created equal in all browsers and apps have been said to run slower than they would on dedicated code.

If operators really do like open alternatives to iOS and Windows Phone 8 and more free choice than just Android, however, then it seems like Firefox at least has a chance to become a contender.

What say you?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:28:40 PM
re: An Alternative to iOS & Android?

Remember the WAC? Doesn't this sound like something they should be involved in...?

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:28:40 PM
re: An Alternative to iOS & Android?

I don't think the wireless operators will really go up against Android and Apple, at least not in the high end and not at first. At launch, the OS is just for lower-end phones in the $50 range. I think that's the smartest place to be as "new" entrant. 

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:28:39 PM
re: An Alternative to iOS & Android?

Just because a carrier “backs” something doesn’t mean they really support it.  AT&T and T-Mobile both “backed” WP and how have those sales been?  Verizon backed “Kin” from Microsoft and how did they turnout?  Lastly, just because a carriers backs something, doesn’t mean they will ever sell a device running it.  Symbian Foundation was founded by:

Nokia, Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Vodafone, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics and AT&T.

If a carrier did want to go up against Apple and Android why couldn’t they?  What is Apple going to do, cut ties with the carrier?  Apple and their customers would be the real loser in that scenario.  A Mozilla phone would still need a hardware manufacturer and HYC, Samsung, LG, etc. all will make what a carrier wants.  If T-Mobile wanted a phone running it, they would make it.

jepovic 12/5/2012 | 5:28:38 PM
re: An Alternative to iOS & Android?

If it works it could get big very quickly. The success of Android teaches us that end users are quite willing to switch OS (much more so than for their personal computer, I believe). As prices drop, the OS costs become more important. 

One shouldn't underestimate the desire to avoid the extreme data mining which is done by Apple and Google. Many carriers and their customers across the world would love to avoid sending tons of private information to these companies. I think this is a much bigger issue outside of the US, and if/when there is a major scandal it could explode.

And why would the carriers fear Google or Apple? Do you think Apple would stop supplying iPhones just because a carrier starts promoting Firefox phones? That could backfire.


gpnayyar 12/5/2012 | 5:28:36 PM
re: An Alternative to iOS & Android?

Open Web Devices are an attempt to reduce the power of the major platforms and their vertical application silos by moving app development and distribution to a more “neutral” web-based environment.


Telefonica and Mozilla have been working  together for a while and also roped in OEMs - LG (and others) plan to launch HTML5 enabled smartphones that compete in features and capability with high end phones, however at more affordable price points. Their plan seems to be invade the low-2-mid range - they're also targetting to create an eco-system


gpnayyar 12/5/2012 | 5:28:35 PM
re: An Alternative to iOS & Android?

And I forgot to mention it goes by the nerdy name of "Boot-to-Gecko"

fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 5:28:33 PM
re: An Alternative to iOS & Android?

Firefox OS at least has a familiar brand name associated with it, with generally positive connotations.  Boot to Gecko sounded either like an insurance advertisement or you were trying to get rid of a pesky lizard.

There's lots of room for innovation in the mobile phone market.  The best hardware design EVAH, the Samsung Alias 2, didn't get upgraded to a smartphone.  All of the crap out there now is a pathetic imitation of the iPhone, a pure touch screen, though a handful of Androids do have little keyboards.  But the keyboard-equipped phone world (at least on the CDMA side) is still dominated by BREW.  Not much of an app store, no sex, but it works, gives a week on a charge, and usually HAS BUTTONS.

When somebody comes out with a "smart" phone that has the tactile mobile-friendly butt-dial-proof operation of my Sammy clamshell, I'll consider it.  Android, Firefox, whatever.  I know the sheepjle in the industry don't get it, but some people don't want iPhone clones.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:28:32 PM
re: An Alternative to iOS & Android?

Also, back in May Sprint announced that they were also backing Tizen.  In fact, the VP of product development at Sprint joined the Tizen Board of Directors.


I would expect that the first Tizen devices to be on the high-end.

krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 5:28:31 PM
re: An Alternative to iOS & Android?

With what Apple has been doing and promoting a software SIM I almost expect them to be an MVNO in the future.  They would have AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless and probably even T-Mobile fighting for their business.  Apple could easily move existing or new customers to the carrier with the best rate for them (Apple).  In many ways, I hope this does happen as the iPhone has really been a curse on the carriers as the users just gobble data up.  Now who pays the price?  Yep, Apple.  Apple could give unlimited out, but Apple would need to pay the price for it.  What could also backfire, carriers may not provide a fixed price for their entire network; areas that they have capacity issues, they could charge more.  They also could not throttle the users though, but why would they, the more the users uses, the more Apple would have to buy.  The carrier also wouldn’t have to provide an support to the user as that would be the responsibility of Apple.

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