With mobile platforms seemingly committed to corralling data and users, Firefox OS is a much-needed return to the principle of openness that the Internet was founded on.
As you may know, Telefonica is working with Mozilla to launch a range of Firefox OS devices. But this is more than just another series of phones. It’s a clarion call for the Internet.
With the launch of the App Store in 2008, the world changed. Customers and developers have gained, but there’s been one outright loser: the Internet. The reason? The App Store is a closed ecosystem.
- Apple controls what you can and can’t see
- It controls what you pay and how you pay for it
- It controls innovation and the evolution of the platform
- It makes it impossible to take anything with you if you leave
A captured audience
Mobile platforms are no longer interested in just selling handsets; they are focussed on keeping customers within their ecosystem. The more customers they lock in, the more apps and services consumed, and the greater the chance they will remain with the platform.
But there’s another consequence. The data created by those customers tends to stay within the closed ecosystem. Sure, users can access the Internet via their device but with the trend to local apps, less data is freely available on the web.
The Internet was made for the free exchange of data. The silo-ing of mobile platforms is in direct opposition to this ideal.
Why does this matter?
An open Internet is the environment that enabled the creation of innovative platforms (and now household names) like Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and eBay. But the tendency of those same platforms to restrict innovation will have a direct impact on how the Internet continues to evolve.
This is bad for developers, consumers – and eventually it will be bad for the platform owners themselves. If history tells us anything, it is that those who seek to control innovation untimely stagnate and die.
FirefoxOS changes all of this.
Mozilla’s aims aren’t to immobilise consumers or to create new proprietary technology just to ensure it has control over its development. Firefox OS is about freeing both the consumer and the developer to do what they want, where and whenever they want. It’s built on web technologies that mean whatever is developed can be used anywhere, on any platform, and in any store.
Bringing open innovation to emerging markets
You might argue that the current platforms have a grip on the market that can’t be challenged. But that’s to ignore the huge opportunities across Latin America, Africa or India where smartphone penetration is still very low. Take Brazil for example where smartphone penetration is roughly 14% and yet this is an important fast growing market with a rapidly expanding middle class that is becoming a big consumer of internet services. There is strong demand for smartphones across the developing world but what’s currently available doesn’t meet the needs of the majority of consumers, whether in terms of price (i.e iPhone) or experience (low end Android devices).
We believe people deserve better: they deserve a platform that is designed to perform well regardless of specifications and at different price points.
In effect, Mozilla’s aim is to bring the power and innovation of the Internet to a generation that has never had access to it, connecting people in a way they never thought possible.
The opportunity for developers and consumers is huge and we can’t wait to see how FirefoxOS evolves in the upcoming months.
First ever FirefoxOS meetup
If you want to know more, join ninety other develpers at the first ever FirefoxOS meetup, taking place at Mozilla London on Wednesday 26 September. If you can’t make it, don’t worry – we’ll be liveblogging the event right here.
Here’s to innovation.