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Firefox OS Will Win Big With Developers - Mozilla 229

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judgecorp writes "Mozilla's mobile operating system Firefox OS will win overwhelming support from developers because it dropped XUL in favour of HTML5, says the head of Mozilla Europe in an interview. Firefox OS is more open than iOS and Android, and 75 percent of apps are already written in HTML5."
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Firefox OS Will Win Big With Developers - Mozilla

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  • Uh huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:14PM (#40678565)

    This just in: Mozilla employee tells us that Mozilla product will be a huge hit!

    Why don't we wait until it comes out before making such claims?

    • Has anyone seen this in demonstration on video? It's so laggy it makes Android seem iOS-like. Even if it's "popular" with developers, it won't be with consumers and thus will be dead on arrival.

  • No, it won't (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:18PM (#40678611)

    Actually it won't.

    Developers will look towards the jobs which earn money, meaning the popular platforms like iOS and Android. To even think Firefox OS will in any way take a reasonable portion of the marketshare is a complete and utter joke.

    Mozilla missed the mobile boat 2 years ago. Hear that mozilla? It's the sound of a fog horn in the distance, get swimming(which is what they're doing right now).

    They should refocus their efforts or they're going to drown.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think they were told the same thing about developing a browser when internet explorer owned the market.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Firefox isn't meant to replace iOS or Android (as you would know if you read mozilla's website). It's simply an option for users to run their software *inside* the browser using HTML5, rather than a separate app.

      • Google "boot to gecko"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Developers will look towards the jobs which earn money, meaning the popular platforms like iOS and Android. To even think Firefox OS will in any way take a reasonable portion of the marketshare is a complete and utter joke.

      A lot of apps are written in HTML5 and then converted - using tools like PhoneGap - to apps for iOS and Android, so there's already a huge developer base writing apps with these tools.

      I can definitely imagine devs writing an Open Web App and then using one of these native wrappers to package it up for the other operating systems.

    • Mozilla will keep on staying afloat so long as its competitors suck, which, at the time being, they do.

      Their main competition right now is Chrome which offers users next to no customization. Opera is still... Opera. And IE, well, is getting better but isn't anywhere near as functional as Firefox/Chrome/Opera.
    • by Lennie (16154)

      A lot of apps on iOS and Android are already built with HTML5. Making them available on Firefox OS should their for be easy.

      I think that is what Mozilla is saying.

  • while I'm not sold on the idea that we need another phone OS, I would think the combination of a cheap tablet with an HTML5 based OS on it is a decent alternative to laptops and netbooks for elementary education purposes. Books, interactive exercises, and word-processing abilities all in one. Allow a school to run their own Google Office-style server to keep things local...could be neat (:

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>while I'm not sold on the idea that we need another phone OS

      A lot of people seem to think Mozilla is trying to replace or compete with iOS and Android. Not the case. QUOTE: "The Firefox OS for mobile devices is built on Mozillaâ(TM)s 'Boot to Gecko project' which unlocks many of the current limitations of web development on mobile, allowing HTML5 applications to access the underlying capabilities of a phone, previously only available to native applications..... Due to the optimization of

      • Wow, really? Then they shouldn't have called it "Boot to Gecko" or "Firefox OS", then.

      • by LiENUS (207736)
        Try the FAQ https://wiki.mozilla.org/B2G/FAQ [mozilla.org]

        What is Boot to Gecko? Boot to Gecko (B2G) is a project with the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the Web. It is not a product offering yet, but we are working on transforming it into one.

      • "We believe the Web is the platform. Ideally, the technology pioneered or refined in the Boot to Gecko project will make its way into all mobile browsers, so that enhanced Web applications can be great regardless of operating system or device...... This is not going to be yet another platform for developers to code for. The project is extending what developers can do with the Web, especially in the context of mobile devices, and to do so in a way that leads to interoperable standards.

        The web may be the s
    • by westlake (615356)

      I would think the combination of a cheap tablet with an HTML5 based OS on it is a decent alternative to laptops and netbooks for elementary education purposes.

      How many times have we been down this road only to see it dead-end?

      Grading the Digital School ---- In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores [nytimes.com]

  • by Qwavel (733416) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:19PM (#40678635)

    It is going to be really tough for Mozilla to make headway with their own mobile OS. Palm, Nokia, RIM, etc. have all failed in spite of enormous efforts, and the only ones that have succeeded now have complete ecosystems built around their devices.

    So, I believe that the chances of Firefox OS succeeding are really slim.

    And this is coming from someone who believes that Mozilla saved the Web, and who runs firefox on their phone (which is part of the problem - I already have mobile firefox).

    • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:29PM (#40678751)

      Palm

      Carrier manhandling (never trust those bastards) and getting snapped up by HP were the biggest contributors to their fall.

      Nokia, RIM

      Unrepentant managerial incompetence. Hell, Nokia had a winner in the N9 but their internal practices kept it from seeing the light of day early enough to actually be of use.

      the only ones that have succeeded now have complete ecosystems built around their devices.

      But the presence of those "ecosystems" does not preclude competitors. Nor do they mean that no one else should try. This is probably the worst argument I've seen, if anything it gives even more reason to hate ecosystems as they seem more adept at inhibiting competition and user choice than anything else.

      I believe that the chances of Firefox OS succeeding are really slim.

      Depends on the market they go into. Success doesn't mean that they drastically displace iOS or Android, only that sales of devices running the platform are profitable. Profitability means that there's opportunity to grow.

      On top of that, if you focus on regions using GSM that don't have their handset choices constrained by the regional carriers you have a far better chance than in backwards markets like the US.

      • by Karlt1 (231423)

        Handset sales are already unprofitable for anyone but Apple and Samsung. What does Fitefix bring to the table?

        • uh... not caring if it is profitable? Support from all the carriers who feel that the use of their network entitles them to a share of the app store pie, after seeing their potted plants (weren't big enough to get to walled garden status) wre not compelling, they can see that if they work together, perhaps they will share more of the pie than Apple or Google do.
          • That would be the irony of it, that Mozilla, whose browser succeeded because of users opting to "Get Firefox", would succeed in its phone OS venture only through the support of monopolies. Carriers already selling cheap or prepaid plans could offer Firefox OS as an alternative to plain dumb phones.
      • the only ones that have succeeded now have complete ecosystems built around their devices.

        But the presence of those "ecosystems" does not preclude competitors. Nor do they mean that no one else should try.

        Specially given that one of the two ecosystem - Android's/Google's - is rather open (due to that phone aren't Google core business - keyword searching is their core technology and they monetize it by leveraging it to serves ads. Anything else they produce is ancillary to that. Developing phone OS and corresponding ecosystem is not a main busness target for Google. It's only a side activity which has the advantage of bringing more people online and thus expanding the number of people they can serve ads to).
        A

        • by Lennie (16154)

          Why a newly developed HTML5/Javascript app ?

          A lot of apps on iOS and Android are already build with HTML5. Usually with a native wrapper, which you obviously wouldn't need with Firefox OS.

  • by mystikkman (1487801) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:20PM (#40678639)

    WebOS also promised that you can write apps in HTML/JS and look at what happened to the Touchpad when it took on the iPad.

    Developers flock to the platforms with most users, ease of development is only a small factor because the alternatives like iOS, Android and WP have reasonable dev environments. If the market was owned by Blackberry, he would have a point, since it's just TERRIBLE for development.

    • This.

      Besides, they're not the only ones pitching HTML5 as a dev platform for mobile. Win8 also does that, and it has far more mature development tools to back that.

      • by Patch86 (1465427) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @02:03AM (#40682787)

        The fact that apps can be written in the exact same programming language for Win Phone 8 and Firefox OS is a point in Mozilla's favour, not against them.

        They're banking on cross-compatibility between the other platforms to ensure that they get a decent ecosystem very quickly. That's presumably what both Mozilla and MS picked HTML5- maximum cross-platform capabilities.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:21PM (#40678649)

    iOS and Android have big enough flaws that if another group finds that magic bullet, they can win big. The design problem is they have to come at from the approach of competing against and with the big boys and not just making a mobile OS that works. There are plenty of failed OS projects out already that "work."

    • by erroneus (253617)

      I'm not so sure about that.

      The market is more or less settled. The things that have won the users over are positives and there's not so many negatives that users will want to change. Even if developers absolutely love developing for FirefoxOS, there won't likely be a market for it. FirefoxOS is about 4 years late to the party.

      On the other hand, if FirefoxOS can be a replacement for Android while using all of the same hardware drivers of Android, there might be a chance it could exist as a geek-elite/hack

      • Even if developers absolutely love developing for FirefoxOS, there won't likely be a market for it.

        There's very little 'developing for' going on here. These are standard web pages. Written in HTML and JS. The same web page that will run on your desktop browser. All that changes is skinning for a smaller screen.

        Any 'native' functionality is called by invoking a library built into the JavaScript engine. All of these libraries are slated for submission to the web standards authority, W3C.

        I think it's imp

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:23PM (#40678675)

    HTML5, while faster than previous incarnations of HTML+JS, is still massively slower than native applications. I predict a very sluggish experience.

  • 75 Percent (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fallingcow (213461) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:24PM (#40678687) Homepage

    75 percent of apps are already written in HTML5

    OK, maybe. But what percentage of good apps are written in HTML5?

    • Re:75 Percent (Score:4, Insightful)

      by goruka (1721094) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @06:10PM (#40679795)
      Exactly my thoughts. To be more specific, writing non-retardedly simple games is a feat with html5 due to slow performance and huge memory consumption.
      Even in Android Java is often bypassed in favor of NDK for complex projects and portability reasons, where you want to use C/C++ or your own, more fittin, scripting language such as Lua or Python.
      Mozilla developers seem to have very strong ideals of a world where the only programming language is HTML5 and the only platform is the web, and I remember there was a lot of hype about that philosophy a few years ago, but app stores with native apps have clearly shown the future is somewhere else. Even Google has aknolwedged that in Chrome by allowing Native Client..
      • by oakgrove (845019)
        My take on it is pretty similar. Right tool for the right job and all. It's pretty easy to write HTML5 apps for Android and iOS there are even pretty good frameworks for it like Titanium and Phonegap. The fact remains that most apps you find in either of those app stores that are written with a webview tend to get the lowest ratings. Scrolling doesn't work as well, they lack depth and complexity, etc. Unless Mozilla can fix these issues on their platform they are going to be in for some disappointment
  • Go for it (Score:3, Funny)

    by DJ Jones (997846) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:24PM (#40678697) Homepage
    Firefox already uses more memory than any OS I own so what the hell, go for it. Maybe Windows 8 can become a light-weight browser that runs on top of it.
    • Re:Go for it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by asa (33102) <asa@mozilla.com> on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:41PM (#40678885) Homepage

      Firefox has better memory management than any other popular browser. If you aren't seeing that, then you aren't on the latest Firefox version or you've got some horribly leaky add-ons installed. (The add-on problem is fixed in Firefox 15 Beta and will be available in 6 weeks.)

      • by erroneus (253617)

        I'm running 13.0.1 with a limited amount of addons... mostly adblock and noscript, but also RIP and firebug... right now, Firefox is using 2.6GB.... which is a huge improvement over previous versions. But then again, I have over 200 tabs open... :) I know... it's obscene. But I prefer tabs to bookmarks. Sometimes I close tabs after I save them to bookmarks and some things live exclusively in bookmarks like my banking and stuff. But for basic digging around and searching topics, multiple tabs rule my wo

  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:27PM (#40678721)
    "With Firefox 14, Mozilla will automatically encrypt searches conducted via Google's search engine in the browser's location bar, search box, or the right-click menu. The idea is to "protect your data from potentially prying eyes, like network administrators when you use public or shared WiFi networks," Mozilla said in a blog post. At this point, Google is the only search engine that will support encrypted searches, "but we look forward to supporting additional search engines with this feature in the future," Mozilla said." (From the PC Mag article) http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407263,00.asp [pcmag.com]
  • *facepalm* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:32PM (#40678789)

    Assuming your platform will "win big with programmers" is silly. Programmers will work with whatever you give them, and combine it with whatever they know. And no two programmers will have the same approach. Thinking you know what programmers want is like believing you know what women want. As if every woman (like every programmer) would be a cookie cutter copy of the other.

    There are only a select few things I've found that programmers esteem and have in common, and it all has very little to do with programming per-se. They are patient. They often have the ability to hyper-focus for hours or (in extreme cases) days on a specific problem, going without food, water, sleep, social contact... in fact, interrupting them may get something chucked at your head. Prolonged and intense programming over a period of days or weeks can result in epic logic failures in their daily life -- "Hey hun, can you go to the store and if they have bread, pick up some eggs?" Programmer comes home with just eggs. They can and sometimes do become obsessed with details of a project (not just computer projects... ANY kind of project) and totally lose track of everything else; time, space, the fact that the house around them is on fire, that the girlfriend (cough, hi) is threatening to bean them if they don't come to bed and cuddle them, etc. Programmers are also endlessly fascinated with a difficult to define quality I call "Niftiness". If something is nifty, they will be drawn to it like a moth to fire. However, what is nifty to one is completely mundane to another... and "Niftiness" is a time-sensitive thing... it degrades rapidly with time.

    You'll note that nowhere in there did I mention anything resembling a computer, or anything about programming itself. Programming attracts a particular kind of person; It is not the result of a particular way of doing something.

    • ... Prolonged and intense programming over a period of days or weeks can result in epic logic failures in their daily life -- "Hey hun, can you go to the store and if they have bread, pick up some eggs?" Programmer comes home with just eggs. ...

      This sounds like a loose paraphrase of a passage from Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution [wikipedia.org]. I can't remember the exact passage but it was about some early hackers who got so into "computer mode" that they interpreted English literally. IIRC the example give was (roughly):

      Wife: "Would you like to help me unload the groceries?"
      Man: "No"
      Wife: "JERK!"
      Man: "What? You asked if I wanted to, and I don't. I will help unload the groceries."

    • My wife is laughing her ass off, saying over and over, that is so you that is so you.
  • Developers go to where the customers are, no matter how good an OS may be.
    Just look how long it's taken for them to start taking Android seriously.
  • WebOS was HTML5, that didn't light a fire with developers. I don't see any tablet maker outside of maybe Samsung with more pull than HP, so the issues with hardware will be even worse.

    iOS used to be webapps only, until people realized that touchscreens and HTML weren't a good match. I'm not sure if HTML5 is so much of a leap to make them that much better. I still prefer Mail.app to GMail and GMail uses some of the cleverest HTML ive seen. Even on a phone which guarantees a network card, you can't guarantee

    • by tepples (727027)

      iOS used to be webapps only, until people realized that touchscreens and HTML weren't a good match.

      Cameras and HTML still aren't a good match even in iOS 5. If you're making a web application, as I understand it, you still need to use PhoneGap (which involves a $300/yr overhead payable to Apple) in order to use the camera API.

  • I Welcome FirefoxOS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by corychristison (951993) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:53PM (#40679003)

    I think Mozilla is absolutely insane coming in to the market so late, but I welcome the competition. As others have pointed out, I am not sure how well it will go over as a Phone OS, but I can absolutely see it as a hobbyist OS. It would be great on tablets, set top boxes (or flash the firmware on your Smart TV), Raspberry Pi.

    I already have a few idea's I could use it for. Small personal projects, mostly based around a Raspberry Pi. I use and like Android but FirefoxOS would be better suited from what I have read so far.

    I do web development for a living. The idea of HTML5 apps excites me as it is a system I know very well.

    Huge win if they come out with an easy to install distro for Raspberry Pi.

  • Haven't they learned anything? You shouldn't be able to control device fundamentals from the browser, it's a complete security nightmare [mobilegazette.com]. Modern OS and browser designs try to sandbox the browser from the underlying architecture with good reason. Remember ActiveX? That was a security disaster. Java is the modern equivalent, I probably patch it more often that I use it. If the Firefox OS ever takes off then the weak security model will probably ensure that it crashes down to earth.
    • by msclrhd (1211086)

      What it likely means is things like providing JavaScript APIs for multi-touch, orientation and accelerometer queries, audio reading/writing, etc.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @04:56PM (#40679039)

    as ChromeOS did. People still aren't interested in dumbing down their devices to a mere terminal.

  • by DrJimbo (594231) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:01PM (#40679103)

    This sounds like a fantastic project. I really hope they succeed. My two main concerns are security and efficiency. Firefox really seems to be a resource hog on my desktop system. They need to make drastic improvements in efficiency in order to compete in the mobile market. Sure, I have a lot of FF windows and tabs open but sometimes I have to nuke FF because it is consuming a lot of CPU while it seems to be doing nothing.

    My other concern is security. FTFA:

    Applications can for example, be installed directly from a website, without going through the Marketplace. There will be several application stores and applications can be submitted for free.

    I sure hope they put a lot of thought and effort into security otherwise it is going to be malware central. I think they are going to need to provide the option of only running digitally signed apps. As long as the user/owner has control of which keys they are going to trust then this won't impinge on the end-user/owner's freedom.

    It would also be really good if there was some way for trusted key-holder to disable apps remotely for cases where an app that contains malware gets accidentally accepted. Again, user/owners would have to be able to opt-in to this feature. There also needs to be a way to lock the phones down so a business can have control over what apps are allowed on the phones they give out to their employees. IOW, control should be in the hands of the owner, not the user. If I lend my phone to someone, I don't want them to be able to install apps.

    Just because the OS is Free as in Freedom should not mean that all contributors are automatically trusted. ISTM it is important to give user/owners the option of using a web of trust from the get-go. As long as the end user/owner has control over which keys are trusted and whether keys are used at all will keep this security feature from impinging on the Freedom of the device.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @05:04PM (#40679149) Homepage Journal

    Finally -- an OS that CAN'T PLAY MP3's. I'm sure it will be very popular.
    Mozilla is floundering hard -- maybe they should just go away.

    • by msclrhd (1211086)

      Actually, it will (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=759945) along with AAC and H.264 via libstagefright.

      • Who pays the MPEG-4 system, AAC, AVC, and MP3 patent royalties for a Firefox OS device?
        • Does AOSP ship on Android phones? Not generally. Carriers and vendors tailor the Android source code to their specific requirements.

          Same thing applies here. If Telefonica want to supply additional functionality to their target Brazilian market, they have the option of taking the source and augmenting it with proprietary codecs.

  • Until Firefox OS gets installed at the factory by handset makers, no one will care. It'll enjoy the same dead-cat thump that Meebo/Maebo did.

    Now we have another organization betting the (a) farm on HTML5, which in and of itself if flawed/broken. Even worse is that Mozilla dumped their better and richer XUL for it.

    I'd rather see Gecko+XUL turned into a desktop environment to compete with GTK+, KDE, and the like. But that's the smart thing to do, which means Mozilla will never do it.

  • We also believe that developers will overwhelmingly support our approach, because 75 percent of applications are already designed in HTML5...

    Wrong. The ability to make money by writing for a platform generally determines if developers will flock to that platform. Even if the apps are already in HTML5, if it's not worth a developer's time to spend 5 minutes making an app bundle and uploading it, they won't bother, no matter how simple you make it. And platforms aren't free. Even if you could snap your fingers and make a version for Mozilla, that's still yet another platform and yet another group of users you have to support.

    Also:

    By... adopting standards such as HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript, we want to attract hundreds of thousands of web developers on OS Firefox. No need to learn the development languages of Apple or Google.

    One word (ok, sor

  • Am I the only one who thinks that Android is going to basically overtake the traditional Linux distros as the most popular face of Linux not only on the Phone and Tablets but eventually on laptops and desktops?

    There are a lot of advantages to Android over basic Linux. Easy to install apps. Commercially supported apps -- like Netflix. Easy market for businesses to monetize with software sales, etc. Games. Commercial backing by one entity.

    Seems to me Mozilla is rather missing the point, or perhaps, is struggl

  • OK. Mozilla no longer has to keep XUL up to date which means those awesome listboxen with sortable columns, and various other cool things I loved so much, are back to being a complete and total PITA to write. Outside of that, what has changed? XUL was XML and it required Javascript to do its client side interactivity. HTML5 is a sub of XML and it requires Javascript to do its client side interactivity.

    As far as it being an OS that developers like, the Mozilla guys seem to like it. Maybe they will write

  • I can run firefox on a toaster, can firefox run outlook? Fallout 3? visual studio? virtual box running debian? GCC toolchains? chrome when firefox fucks up?

    I dont need a shitty computer that uses a browser as its "os", I have plenty of shitty computers that already do more

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