OS Updates: From a Firefox to a Safari Shakedown

News from Mozilla, the mobile browser ecosystem and HP starts July off with a software slant.

  • Firefox OS, the wireless operator-supported, HTML5-based operating system, will make its official debut Tuesday in Spain when Telefónica SA begins selling the ZTE Open for €69 (US$90). The Firefox ecosystem is banking on the combination of cheap phones with open Web access and HTML5 apps winning over consumers in emerging markets. Developers, operators and device makers appear to be keen on the new platform, but it's less certain if consumers will move beyond Android and iOS, both of which also have cheaper alternatives, to adopt this new third ecosystem. (See Firefox vs. Ubuntu: Pick Me!.)
  • While alternative OS providers are taking a crack at mobile, alternative browser providers are already crowding in on the market leaders' mobile turf. According to new stats from Net Applications, usage of both Apple's Safari and Google's Android browsers slipped in June, while Opera Mini, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer all grew.

    Safari slipped from 60 percent of usage in May to 58 percent in June, while Android fell just 0.1 percent to 20.6 percent of usage. On the flip side, Opera grew from 10.5 percent to 11.2 percent, Chrome climbed to 3.8 percent, up from 3.2 percent, and IE rose from 2 percent to 2.4 percent.

    While the changes certainly aren't huge, they show that the mobile browser space is currently up for grabs. The mobile experience today is largely dominated by native apps (something Firefox is hoping to change) and, unlike on the desktop, there's room for new platforms that provide the most pain-free mobile experience to make a dent.

  • Despite its embarrassing webOS flop, HP is planning to re-enter the smartphone at some point in the future. With what OS on board, however, isn't yet clear. Yam Su Yin, HP's senior director of consumer PC and media tablets in Asia Pacific, reiterated to the Indian Express that it wasn't too late to enter the smartphone market and that," when HP has a smartphone, it will give a differentiated experience." (See OS Watch: HP Wants Back in the Smartphone Game.)

    She didn't provide any details about that smartphone or a timeline to launch it. Android's open OS may seem like the likely candidate for HP given that it already offers a tablet based on the OS, but HP partner Microsoft's Windows Phone is also an option, as is BlackBerry if HP wants to take a serious run at the enterprise market.

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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