Mozilla’s Mobile OS, Boots to Gecko, is open-source and HTML5 based. Its web APIs use normal smartphone capabilities including SMS, Bluetooth and phone usage. With Boots to Gecko, developers can write directly to the Web, bypassing the restrictions of controlled mobile platforms.
“It's not in these companies' interests to allow you to switch platforms,” said Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe. “Of course they want to keep you locked, but as a user I want freedom. I want to be able to switch from one thing to another.”
On the Web, Nitot noted that uses can switch browsers from Windows to Mac or Linux and back again. Mozilla, in that spirit, wants to create an open Web app store. The Mozilla Marketplace could sell apps that would run equally well on iPhone (News - Alert), Android or Windows Phone. This would mean that users would not be locked into one single app market or one single operating system.
According to Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs (News - Alert), Boots to Gecko will first be deployed in Brazil through the Telefonica network. Neither Mozilla nor Telefonica (News - Alert) confirmed which hardware would run the OS, although Pablo Lerrieux of Telefonica Vivo spoke tantalizingly of unlocked handsets with costs similar to that of a feature phone.
“We're basically pushing the web forward by implementing these web APIs and documenting how we want this to happen so that other browser vendors have a standard that they can discuss and agree on,” Nitot explained to SiliconRepublic.com. “We're working not for us, but for the web as a whole.”
By creating an OS that could run directly from the web, Mozilla hopes to facilitate the production of smartphones at a much lower price. However, the competitive smartphone market may not have much room for a new player. iOS and Android dominate, with platforms like RIM and Windows phone trailing far behind. No one new has been able to challenge Apple or Google (News - Alert) for dominance—yet.
“Instead of your choice for a particular (mobile) device narrowing your options, we'd like to see the user have control over their online life,” says Jay Sullivan (News - Alert), Mozilla’s vice president of products. If Telefonica’s gamble pays off, then Mozilla may change the mobile landscape the same way it changed web browsing with Firefox.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin