Mozilla — the company that created the open-source Firefox internet browser — made the leap into the competitive mobile phone market this year with its own open-source HTML5-based operating system for smartphones. The phones and OS are aimed at the global audience currently dominated by Android devices, but branching out into various countries’ markets has been a slow and steady process for Mozilla. Its October 9 update to its operating system comes with the promise of more debuts on a more global scale.
So far, users in Spain, Colombia, Venezuela, and Poland have been able to by one of two smartphones hosting Firefox OS: the ZTE Open or the Alcatel One Touch Fire. But Mozilla knows it won’t get far in these markets alone and with just two carriers on board. Along with an update to its software on the mobile devices that improves upon speed and functionality of some applications, the company revealed it intends to expand to Brazil and other Latin American countries on Telefonica’s network in addition to Germany, Greece, and Hungary with Deutsche Telekom.
While expanding into more global markets is exactly what Mozilla should be doing, it still has to contend with the Android juggernaut in mobile. The IDC reported earlier this year that Android-based mobile devices accounted for nearly 80% of overall global smartphone shipments — a daunting level of dominance for any other player hoping to get in on the market. But Firefox OS phones are low in cost compared to many Android devices, and its different app marketplace — made possible by its HTML5 architecture — attracts users looking for something other than Google’s or Apple’s software.
The latest update from Mozilla is just another step in its continued rollout of Firefox OS-based devices around the world, so it will be some time before the venture can be credited a success or not, but if the industry has learned anything from BlackBerry’s fall, it’s to not get too comfortable with the one who’s on top.