Earlier this week, Engadget provided a sneak peek at Firefox OS, Mozilla’s effort to claw back into the mobile game. The report features apparently as-yet-unseen screenshots of Firefox OS’ new app store. One images reveals a marketplace with access to a variety of apps and app categories, while the other shows a page that details a Solitaire app. It’s not a lot, but that’s what you get from a leaked first look.
As you might remember, way back in July 2011, we reported that Mozilla was planning on releasing its very own mobile operating system, Boot to Gecko. The idea was that it would build a completely free and open operating system platform for mobile devices that would compete against iOS, Windows Phone, and most directly, Google’s Android. Android is also “free and open,” although there is nuance to that title for the platform. Boot to Gecko is now being called Firefox OS, although the premise of building a free and open-source operating system is still the same.
The OS has been made available to developers on Mozilla’s FTP site, and the images bring us a more complete picture of the user experience Mozilla plans to deliver.
You might ask what the purpose of building a free operating system is, and the answer to that is the reason these photos are so interesting. Wide adoption of a free mobile OS by handset makers and service providers means more people will be accessing that OS’ app store and, presumably, paying for apps, sending a cut back to the app store proprietor (read: operating system developer). It also means that the developer’s other products (e.g. Firefox mobile browser) are front and center for a user of the OS.
If Mozilla’s significance on the desktop is any indication, their play for a chunk of the mobile market with a widely adoptable OS could potentially make an impact, particularly in low-cost handsets and emerging markets for mobile devices that connect to the internet. But as Windows Phone — a viable, well-funded, and downright good-looking competitor — has seen, competing with Android and iOS is a uphill battle.