To date, Google’s Android business unit has claimed to be the sole significant representative of open source O/S options for mobile devices. Leaving aside, for the moment, whether Android’s O/S architecture really complies with OpenSource standards, or not (I don’t think so and some other analysts hold my position), on February 23, 2014, the Mozilla organization made an announcement to enter the fray in a big way: Firefox OS Expands to Higher-Performance Devices and Pushes the Boundaries of Entry-Level Smartphones.
The press release also mentions Panasonic has chosen the Firefox OS for a new smart TV, and a tablet to be built on the Firefox OS by Foxconn. What’s most important for emerging markets about all this activity by the Mozilla Organization, is the low cost of entry it purports to opens up for retail consumers. On February 25, 2014, Sven Grundberg and Tom Gryta wrote in an article titled Smart Phone Makers Aim at Emerging Markets With Low-End Devices: “China’s ZTE Corp. introduced a phone running on Mozilla’s Firefox operating system that will cost $80. Mozilla says it will introduce a phone made in conjunction with a Chinese chip maker this year that will cost just $25.” (quoted from Grundberg and Gryta’s article, a link to which has been provided in this paragraph).
Of course, the close ties Firefox OS has evidently established with Chinese mobile phone OEMs, together with the very low cost to consumers for this technology in Internet ready smart phones, should give Android executives something to think about, at the least. How long will it take before Samsung, and/or Lenovo comes to market with similar products? Only time will tell.
As to how big an impact a serious challenge from the Mozilla Organization may have on Google’s Android bottom line will take sometime to determine. I think there are a lot of reasons, at present, for mobile phone OEMs with a commitment to Android to start taking a serious look at the Firefox OS option.
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