Mozilla, the giant slayer who took on Internet Explorer with its Firefox browser years ago is back with “Boot to Gecko” to take on mobile industry giants, Apple and Google with help from friends like Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, Verizon and other notable entities in the mobile sector.
At the Mobile World Conference 2012, the companies mentioned above along with virtually every other company in the mobile sector EXCEPT Apple and Google, announced the formation of the W3C Core Mobile Web Platform (Coremob) Community Group. The mission is to bring together original equipment manufacturers, browser makers, developers, and wireless/data providers to agree on certain core features that will “accelerate the adoption of the Mobile Web.” The group wants to make the mobile web as free and open source as possible, a goal not possible in a world controlled by proprietary platforms. Ironically, this is exactly why Apple and Google aren’t involved in Coremob; they each earn fortunes in their own respective PROPRIETARY app stores.
On the device side of the Boot to Gecko model, Mozilla has already forged alliances with Telefonica and Qualcomm to deliver ridiculously inexpensive smart phones to users worldwide, and could grab a large market share quickly in Latin America, where Telefonica is a dominant force. The group claims that they can deliver fully functional smartphones for a tenth of what an iPhone would cost.
The best way to prevent monopolies and stimulate new ideas and rapid growth is by providing a level playing field and an open environment that shares new developments and upgrades with the rest of the world mobile community. Beta testing has been going on for quite some time with Firefox for Android but with Boot to Gecko Firefox bypasses iOS and Android completely, effectively making the web browser the operating system for the device.
“Developers aren’t willing to rewrite all their apps for yet another proprietary system,” Brendan Eich, Mozilla’s chief technology officer, said in an interview on Monday. “That’s why there won’t be another successful custom operating system after iOS and Android. So the next logical step is to make the Web an OS.” – from CNN Money
Web apps are unrestricted and cross platform compatible which allows them to run on virtually any device that can access the internet including iPhone, Android, Blackberry and their “Boot to Gecko” devices. Now you don’t have to worry about losing all of your apps if you switch to a different phone or OS — web apps go with you wherever you go.
According to mobile industry analyst, comScore in their latest content usage report, the Web is the second most used app on any phone and is only exceeded by text messaging. HTML5, which is the advanced computer language that the web works on, has evolved into an assortment of capabilities that enable the existence of Boot to Gecko.
Currently the technology doesn’t allow web applications to access the phone’s microprocessor which can render some apps such as Angry Birds unusable because of the delays running calculations. With an open system and so many brilliant minds working on the advancement of this technology it is surely only a matter of time before this limitation is erased as well. Facebook Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor on Monday, February 27, said that the social network is throwing its support behind a standardized mobile payment process to be used by Web applications.
Mozilla’s dream is to create a space that gives you a real native app feel while working on any browser and any device. It is a lofty ambition, but I for one will be cheering them on as one that has been envisioning an open and transparent mobile web which will be the best possible end result for users and developers alike.