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Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the foxes-are-friendlier-than-androids dept.

Firefox 205

mattydread23 writes with an opinion piece naming a few reasons Firefox OS is likely to succeed "It's geared toward low-powered hardware in a way that Google doesn't care as much about with Android, it's cheap enough for the pre-paid phones that are much more common than post-paid in developing countries, and most important, there are still 3.5 billion people in the world who have feature phones and for whom this will be an amazing upgrade." I'd push greater commitment to keeping the essential components of the system under FOSS licenses onto the head of that list.

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205 comments

Firefox OS is great... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46430851)

But it needs a web browser. Does it run Chrome?

Why "Funny"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431143)

As a Firefox OS user since October, I wonder why this was modded as "funny" and not "insightful".

Re:Why "Funny"? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431255)

1.3 build is f'ing awesome. Most of the problems with have been fixed. This is coming from somebody who was extremely critical of it (even though excited initially because of its freedom aspects). After 1.2 and finally 1.3 (on the ZTE open) it actually works pretty well. I'm not this person. I think 1.0 release with ZTE open (I have this version, haven't tried 1.3... which is like a beta release or not even) worked OK, but it definitely has some early-adopter type issues. Lack of apps (not that I'm a big app person), lack of integration (can't sync/backup my notes or pull in Google contacts? or something like that easily, but you can export them for Google and import or something in some hackish way- and that worked good enough for me), etc. The only complaint remaining by the overly critical friend of mine is that he can't connect to his mail server because it has a self-issued ssl certificate and not way to accept it.

Re:Why "Funny"? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431507)

Firefox OS is DOA. Mozilla just doesn't know it.

Re:Firefox OS is great... (0)

Bradmont (513167) | about 5 months ago | (#46431171)

Install Emacs. All you'll need then is a text editor.

Re: they see me trollin... they hatin' (4, Funny)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | about 5 months ago | (#46431227)

Reminds me of my favorite UNIX joke:

Emacs would be great operating system if someone just wrote a decent text editor for it.

Re: they see me trollin... they hatin' (3, Insightful)

ichthyoboy (1167379) | about 5 months ago | (#46431349)

sudo apt-get install woosh

Why? (4, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | about 5 months ago | (#46430857)

The entire premise of this article seems to revolve around the unsubstantiated claim that Android is poorly optimized for low-end devices. I disagree with that claim, so the entire premise of the article seems suspect to me.

Re:Why? (5, Funny)

Delarth799 (1839672) | about 5 months ago | (#46430971)

Your mind is just not properly optimized to receive the slashvertisement in this article correctly. Please step over to the tuning station to receive full mental optimization.

Re:Why? (1)

ClaraBow (212734) | about 5 months ago | (#46430977)

I totally agree with you. Android runs very well on low spec hardware. Plus the low end phones of today were yesterday"s high-end!

Cramming a data plan onto a voice SIM (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46431027)

True, but U.S. CDMA carriers still refuse to activate low-end Android phones of today on a feature phone plan. And among U.S. GSM carriers, the one with more coverage still has a habit of automatically adding a data plan to a SIM with voice-only service inserted into a smartphone [slashdot.org] . These behaviors are why I still carry a tablet and dumbphone. Will carriers perform the same sort of tying on Firefox OS devices, or will they let customers use cellular voice with only Wi-Fi data?

Excellent point. (1)

feranick (858651) | about 5 months ago | (#46431139)

It's not about the OS as much as it is about the carrier. In the US it's always been.

Re:Cramming a data plan onto a voice SIM (1)

devman (1163205) | about 5 months ago | (#46431235)

AT&T has wifi only and low data plans on GoPhone prepaid for Smartphones. http://www.att.com/shop/wirele... [att.com] The prepaid landscape is changing pretty rapidly in the US, which is nice for those of us who like to buy our own phones.

Re:Cramming a data plan onto a voice SIM (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46431303)

AT&T has wifi only and low data plans on GoPhone prepaid for Smartphones.

The words "wifi" and "ethernet" do not appear on that page.

If you're doing wifi-only, get yourself a static IP, run asterisk, use any old cellphone with SIP support and wifi and skip AT&T, as they are fuckers of the highest degree. Their prices are beyond fucking ridiculous. They want $50/mo for a land line. I got SIP for about ten bucks a month. My Xperia Play is now our cordless phone, and it's also a neato clock. My server is a $20 pogoplug, but in fairness I bought two of them so I could do HA.

Voice out of the house (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46431379)

If you're doing wifi-only [...] use [...] SIP

That might work for people who make and receive calls only at home. Am I the only one who needs voice but not data while riding transit?

Re:Voice out of the house (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46431501)

That might work for people who make and receive calls only at home. Am I the only one who needs voice but not data while riding transit?

I don't know, I have no idea why anyone would bring up a wifi-only plan in the first place. In any case, many buses now have wifi on them.

Re:Cramming a data plan onto a voice SIM (2)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 5 months ago | (#46431469)

Indeed, which brings me to the other thing I see 'wrong' with the article (or at least the summary) - the statement "it's cheap enough for the pre-paid phones that are much more common than post-paid".

Outside the US (not just in third-world countries, but most other developed countries), this is a false dichotomy (suggesting that only 'cheap' phones can be put on pre-paid plans). Many people with 'high end' phones (Galaxy S4, iPhone 5/5S) are on pre-paid plans. Often quite cheap ones. Actually I'd say that's the norm in many places - many Asian countries, Australia/NZ, much of Europe. People caught on long ago that tying yourself into a 2+ year contract for a subsidized phone isn't worth it in the long run, because you miss out on being able to jump to different plans/carriers, who are in competition with each other and generally introduce new, better value plans a couple of times per year.

Yes, yes I know the market in the US is different. But in much of the rest of the world the phone and the plan are two unrelated purchase decisions. You can have a cheap-ass phone on an expensive post-paid plan, or the most expensive phone in the world on the cheapest $10 pre-paid...

Re:Cramming a data plan onto a voice SIM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431565)

U.S. CDMA carriers still refuse to activate low-end Android phones of today on a feature phone plan.

What are you talking about? I got a Sprint Express (Android 2.3.6, 320x240 touchscreen, and a hardware keyboard) for $30 in November, and I pay $10/mo (month-to-month, no contract) for 100 minutes and 50MB data.

and more to the point (1)

goldcd (587052) | about 5 months ago | (#46431691)

yesterday's hardware does what 99% of end users want.
I'm as guilty as the last review-fixated whore in obsessing over the specs of my current and potential future phones - but with the last gen I've hit a realization.
A 1080 screen is more than enough. My CPU and GPU are absolutely fine to run anything I need. Personally (HTC One) I'd *like* to know I could crunch a benchmark faster for my geek pride - but I can't for the life of me see how any phone upgrade costing me £500+ (less ebaying of my old handset) could potentially be worth the money for what I use my phone for.
Even stepping back to my last purchase - the Nexus was by far better value and I was swayed by pretty design (not that I see anything wrong with that). Just in the next gen I've seen so far I can't see anything more than mere incremental spec increase and entirely subjective design improvements.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46430989)

my experience with android is you use it for a while, get an OS update then your suddenly running a version of android which you can't revert out of that is designed for hardware several generations faster than what you're running

i'm currently stuck with a barely functional phone thats slow and unusable without the option to revert back to what was working properly and being forced to spend on a new phone

Re:Why? (1)

maliqua (1316471) | about 5 months ago | (#46431003)

so it works on low end hardware as long as you never do a system upgrade

Re:Why? (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 5 months ago | (#46431165)

That's certainly my situation. Fortunately there were no irreversible upgrades, unlike the AC. But I'm pretty much forced to cancel all attempted updates because the phone won't handle them. (Mainly memory. I don't have enough on-phone memory to run just the raw OS (and vendor shit) once I accept upgrades. I freed up over a third of my memory by rolling back upgrades of the core Google apps.) Thankfully they clearly separate security upgrades from brand-upgrades. Oh wait, no, they don't.

[The phone's still under warranty, so I've waiting before I try Cyanogen. By then, perhaps FFOS will be an option.]

Re:Why? (1)

richtopia (924742) | about 5 months ago | (#46431071)

My experience is that low end hardware is painful on Android, with memory being the largest issue. All web browsers on my work phone with 512mb ram crash after a handful of tabs are open (ironically, the no longer developed Opera mobile copes the best).

Re:Why? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46431077)

Of course it all depends what you mean by low-end devices. You could both be right, but simply have a different level of devices in mind.

However, if Firefox OS were really designed for low-end devices, it would be using a lower level language than HTML5 and Javascript for apps.

Re:Why? (2)

narcc (412956) | about 5 months ago | (#46431257)

It seems to work just fine. I have a ZTE Open -- which makes low-end phones look futuristic -- running FFOS. There are some pretty impressive games that run just fine on that antique hardware. Asteroid Mania is my go-to example, as it's the only (I think?) 3d game on the platform. It's not something you'd expect would work well in HTML5, let alone on a seriously low-end phone.

Yeah, I know all the JS sucks memes, but it should be obvious by that that they're simply not true.

Unrelated, but I feel the need to say it anyway: This whole thing reminds me of all the folks complaining about how old BB apps were all Java while praising Android.

Re:Why? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46431485)

ZTE Open is about the same as an iPhone 3GS. Although it has a 1GHz processor compared with the 600MHz of the 3GS.

Now low end, but not as low as the 3rd world devices they talk about.

And from the photos, Asteroid Mania looks very limited. Like a game from the 1990s.

This whole thing reminds me of all the folks complaining about how old BB apps were all Java while praising Android.

I wasn't really party to that discussion. But for sure Java bytecode seriously outpaces Javascript.

Re:Why? (2)

narcc (412956) | about 5 months ago | (#46431631)

I wasn't commenting on the game, but the tech. It's a fast-paced full 3d game with dynamic lighting. That was the point. JS is not a serious limitation to apps and games on the platform.

I'm sure that, if we wait long enough, an example more to your liking will pop up in the marketplace.

Re:Why? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46431677)

I can't comment on the game, as I can't play it. But from the photos, it look like a very small number of polygons, set in outer space. This is the kind of 3D we had in the early 1990s. Modern phones on the other hand are running modern 3D game engines, within full 3D environments with thousands of polys.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431083)

You've clearly not used Android on a low-end device. It's absolutely terrible, with shit crashing constantly and the phone rebooting.

Now maybe there is something better in the "low-end" device range than a Kyocera Event, but at $45 you don't get much more low-end.

Lack of innovation on the low-end (1)

feranick (858651) | about 5 months ago | (#46431207)

It's no secret that innovation in the low-end of the market is high on the priority of manufacturers. Margins are low, and in combination with carrier policies, it's much more profitable to focus on high end handsets. Low end one are few years ago tech, repackaged, with unoptimized software. Google itself has been guilty of pushing Android to perform well on the high end, neglecting the low-end. Gingerbread still lives because it is the last Android OS to perform somehow well on low-end hardware. Even Google Glass, heck, runs on Ice Cream Sandwich, because Jelly Beans is too heavy for it. KitKatt is supposed to bring a fresh approach to low-end devices, we will need to wait and see. But there are clear responsibilities in software and hardware makers if such low performing devices exists. So, just like it did on the desktop, I hope Firefox OS will provide the incentive for the "other" OSes to push the boundaries on the low-end.

Re:Lack of innovation on the low-end (2)

tlambert (566799) | about 5 months ago | (#46431415)

It's no secret that innovation in the low-end of the market is high on the priority of manufacturers.

Because everyone wants to compete in the booming low-margin Blackberry/Nokia feature phone market?

Re:Why? (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 5 months ago | (#46431121)

I'm tired of entire premises. Can't we criticize a premise element? These entire premises are too much for me, especially because I'm off-premises today. I premise to try harder to grasp entire premises in future premises, if I understand the entire premises involved.

Re:Why? (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 5 months ago | (#46431159)

Not to mention its not like you HAVE to take stock android anymore, pretty much any shop now offers changing ROMs which honestly really gives the low end phones a real kick in the ass. hell after ROMing mine I decided to stay with it instead of getting a new phone as the ROM included tethering which the new ones didn't have at the time.

But as somebody who gets to mess with folks phones as well as PCs (you'd be surprised how many "can you look at this too?" I get in a day when it comes to phones) I have to say...yeah...Android DOES suck OOTB and you can lay the blame at Google themselves. Sure the carrier apps suck but Google has so much shit running in the background that just sucks cycles its not even funny. I got to looking at the third party ROMs and I'd say a good 80% of their speed boosts are merely turning off all the Google shit.

If Moz actually supports the units and makes say 2 years worth of updates mandatory across the line? hell I'll buy 'em, sell them here. I am so sick of having to find third party ROMs for recent phones because the carriers never bother, bring MozPhone on I say.

Which Android phones run on 128MB or 256MB? (1)

asa (33102) | about 5 months ago | (#46431241)

Which phones with 128MB or 256MB of RAM run a modern version of Android?

Re:Which Android phones run on 128MB or 256MB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431305)

Try buying 128MB of ram. It's more expensive than buying 16GB.

Re:Why? (5, Interesting)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | about 5 months ago | (#46431301)

The entire premise of this article seems to revolve around the unsubstantiated claim that Android is poorly optimized for low-end devices. I disagree with that claim, so the entire premise of the article seems suspect to me.

Android requires OpenGL ES, both in the 1.0 and 2.0 flavors. For devices in developing countries, that's a very high bar.

That's also not a knock against Android. For higher end devices that's a very sensible requirement. But just looking at the minimum requirements, it's not compatible with low end in the developing world.

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431597)

The minimum hardware requirement list for Firefox OS includes a Adreno 200. The Adreno 200 supports OpenGL ES 2.0.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431385)

I agree - compared to Apple iDevices all Adroid devices are low-end.

Re: Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431499)

Have you tried it on low spec hardware? My Nexus S can barely run Jelly Bean without shutting down apps when I leave them and If I answered a text message right without submitting, I would have to reenter this comment. Also When I try to open a 100k plain text file most editors just crash. I use to be able to open files of this size on a 286 with 4 megs of ram.

No, just no (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46430865)

B2G is absolutely going to fail, and Mozilla will not exist in 10 years. Thanks for defeating the IE6 monoculture guys, but it's over.

Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat (5, Insightful)

fsck-beta (3539217) | about 5 months ago | (#46430871)

Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat

Flamebait and hopelessly wrong.

Re:Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat (4, Funny)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46430993)

Of course Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat. Also, 2014 will be the year of Linux on the desktop.

Re:Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat (5, Funny)

ynp7 (1786468) | about 5 months ago | (#46431093)

Didn't you get the memo? With the announcement of SteamOS, the "Year of the Linux Desktop" has been moved to 2015 (Valve Time, so maybe 2016 or 2017). Of course the "desktop" has also been moved to the livingroom, so plan accordingly.

Re:Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat (3, Interesting)

dnavid (2842431) | about 5 months ago | (#46430995)

Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat

Flamebait and hopelessly wrong.

I wouldn't go that far. Its entirely possible that Firefox OS could become a major player in the market segment the article indicates. The problem is that saying "...will become the Mobile OS to Beat" implies the major players like Android, iOS, and Windows even want to win that game in the first place. Absolutely there are lots of people who cannot afford the top of the line smartphones out there, and it would be nice if someone serviced their needs, but the problem is time. In time, technology will improve and costs will continue to drop relative to computing power. Its very dangerous to target a market Moore's Law is scheduled to destroy.

For Firefox OS to be the mobile OS "to beat" requires a lot of things to happen that aren't trivial exercises. First, Firefox OS has to become the dominant player in the low end market. Second, it has to achieve a level of brand loyalty comparable to iOS and significantly higher than Android itself (Android users are typically more loyal to their smartphone manufacturer than the operating system itself in my experience). It then has to be able to parlay that brand loyalty into a way to maintain their hold on those users as the smartphone industry advances to the point where the $20 phone of tomorrow is the $600 phone of today. And it must do this in a way that doesn't give the major players an easy way to encompass Firefox's feature set: if FirefoxOS's major innovations are based on open standards and HTML5 applications, anything it can do today Android and iOS could easily do tomorrow if they wanted to.

So much has to go right besides "sell a lot of low end feature phones" that to me it would be like predicting that the company that supplies most of the paper to print air travel tickets in kiosks was a threat to take over the entire travel industry in a decade.

The plan costs more for a smartphone (2)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46431091)

Absolutely there are lots of people who cannot afford the top of the line smartphones out there

There are also people who can afford the phone but not the plan. Virgin Mobile, for instance, charges $336 per year more for service on an Android phone than for service on a dumbphone. I can keep service on a dumbphone for $7 per month, but if I wanted to activate an Android phone, that'd cost no less than $35 per month. Wouldn't carriers lump Firefox OS with the smartphones that require a data plan even if the subscriber plans to use only Wi-Fi data?

Re:The plan costs more for a smartphone (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 5 months ago | (#46431133)

Keep in mind that the median worldwide household income is under $10K/yr...

Re:The plan costs more for a smartphone (1)

Azmodan (572615) | about 5 months ago | (#46431203)

I am on Virgin Mobile, currently paying 18$/m for 50 min., unlimited txts, pay as you go 3g (I don't use it) and have a Samsung S3 that I've bought elsewhere.

Re:The plan costs more for a smartphone (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 5 months ago | (#46431265)

Lots of countries have laws that prohibit carriers from differentiating the pricing based on phone model or have carriers who aren't crooked enough that they'd want to do something like that, so the data plan for a smartphone is not necessarily going to be more expensive if you already have a data plan for your feature phone.

A minimal 100MB data plan is probably only a dollar or two in many low income countries, so it's no big deal.

Not worth leaving the US, I assume (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46431351)

Lots of countries have laws that prohibit carriers from differentiating the pricing based on phone model

But how easy is it for a citizen of Dice's home country to get a work visa in those countries?

Re:Firefox OS Will Become the Mobile OS To Beat (1)

Lennie (16154) | about 5 months ago | (#46431193)

Yes, FirefoxOS is trying to slip in thought a closing window. But it's a a large window. You have to remember more than half of the installed base are still feature phones and still being sold today.

I wouldn't mind if they pull it off.

Just no (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46430883)

Um no.

If it runs as crappy as their browser (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46430889)

even the ever-so-terrible Android and especially IOS are safe and sound from firefox.

Re:If it runs as crappy as their browser (1)

97cobra (89974) | about 5 months ago | (#46431569)

I'm with you. I just upgraded to v27.0.1. It has crashed 5 times more in the last week than v20.x did in the previous year. What a piece of crap.

Still waiting.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46430911)

...For a phone that is just for calling... as it's the only thing I need a phone for.

Small touch screen is so annoying to use with my wiener like fingers... (using web, email or even texting is a pain in the ass)
I don't take photos with my phone... I have a digital camera for that.
I don't listen to music... Except friday nights and from the big speakers in my living room.
I don't need a mobile navigator... My car has a built-in navigator

Please, someone make a cheap and extremely durable phone with 12 months of battery life that I can use to make and recieve calls!

Thank you :)

Re:Still waiting.... (0)

CRCulver (715279) | about 5 months ago | (#46430961)

Small touch screen is so annoying to use with my wiener like fingers

This explains so well your later point:

I don't need a mobile navigator... My car has a built-in navigator.

So you don't ever walk or hike anywhere, lardo?

Re:Still waiting.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46430973)

He likely is unable to leave the basement without a chair lift.

Disability discrimination much? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46431059)

He likely is unable to leave the basement without a chair lift.

Which isn't necessarily something to be ashamed of, especially as people who graduated from college in the 1970s hit retirement age.

Re:Disability discrimination much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431119)

In his case, it's because he's morbidly obese.

Re:Still waiting.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431033)

They make shitty phones like that for old people, take some of your social security fun bucks to the nearest retailer and buy one please. Maybe then you won't feel the need to post shit like this every time modern phones are discussed here.

Re:Still waiting.... (1)

niado (1650369) | about 5 months ago | (#46431039)

I don't know why people keep blathering about this. There are a lot of options out there for the 'phone-only' phones.

A quick google search [lmgtfy.com] brings up a recent top-10 list which reveals several decent choices. A couple of exames are: Samsung gusto 2 [lmgtfy.com] available for Verizon and Samsung Entro [lmgtfy.com] for Virgin Mobile.

Re:Still waiting.... (1)

vidnet (580068) | about 5 months ago | (#46431099)

This is not an insightful, quirky observation about modern, overengineered gadgets that try to do everything but fail to do anything well.

It's a tired and overused rant being perpetually parroted by people who don't even want what they're asking for.

If you were actually looking for such a phone, you'd have done a simple web search and found plenty of phones in the $30 range with over a month of standby time, like the Nokia 105.

Re:Still waiting.... (1)

Lennie (16154) | about 5 months ago | (#46431321)

If I remember correctly the cheapest phones are sold for US $12 on the street in China, which are sold for US $ 10 in larger quanities direcly from the factory:
http://www.bunniestudios.com/b... [bunniestudios.com]

Re:Still waiting.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431651)

What's a web search? And get off my lawn.

LOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46430915)

I'd push greater commitment to keeping the essential components of the system under FOSS licenses onto the head of that list.

Except such a thing is irrelevant to all but a microscopic minority of nerds.

The goverment's PINGAS envy (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46431125)

That microscopic yet vocal minority with the power to verify the phone's operating system is probably the public's best hope against the snooping-as-usual practices currently popular among governments of certain industrialized countries.

Re:The goverment's PINGAS envy (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 5 months ago | (#46431179)

Oh really? How's that been working out for you so far? How many - even of that self-selected few - actually compile their mobile OS from hand-verified source, pray tell?

Re:The goverment's PINGAS envy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431277)

The best part is you're delusional enough to believe that tripe. And how is having the OS source code going to do anything against snooping at the carrier level?

Re:The goverment's PINGAS envy (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 5 months ago | (#46431405)

You don't really actually truly for real know how encryption works, do you, Coward? Or are you just hoping that readers will fall for your little trick to make the intelligentsia appear myopic?

Re:The goverment's PINGAS envy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431505)

How is encryption going to stop them from tracking your location, logging your call metadata, etc,? Are you intentionally dense or just stupid?

Re:LOL (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 5 months ago | (#46431483)

I'd push greater commitment to keeping the essential components of the system under FOSS licenses onto the head of that list.

Except such a thing is irrelevant to all but a microscopic minority of nerds.

I totally disagree.

It's also really important to regulatory agencies like the FCC in the U.S., the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Ministere de l'Econonie des Finances et des L'Industrie in France, the Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway in Germany, the European Radiocommunication Office in all of Europe, the Commission for Communications Regulation, and other government agencies.

Because they will damn well not let a software defined radio with source code be legally imported into their jurisdiction, and they all require that the firmware load on SDRs be cryptographically protected from being replaced by the end user, and they certify radio units as bundles of software + hardware, and any attempt to sever the relationship between the two renders the equipment illegal to use.

It's a nice pipe dream, though.

Not if the Republicans have any say in this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46430999)

They already said they want any mobile OS that doesn't allow the government to shutdown and make worthless any device that a protester owns. They know they constant huge occupy protests are just going to get larger and more powerful so they keep demanding to be able to brick devices own by the freedom fighters. Expect the contributors to this Firefox scheme to be put in prison for challenging the Republicans this way.

Re:Not if the Republicans have any say in this (1)

koan (80826) | about 5 months ago | (#46431031)

No, expect 100% for this OS to be a part fo the Government scheme.

Re:Not if the Republicans have any say in this (0)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#46431261)

They already said they want any mobile OS that doesn't allow the government to shutdown and make worthless any device that a protester owns. They know they constant huge occupy protests are just going to get larger and more powerful so they keep demanding to be able to brick devices own by the freedom fighters. Expect the contributors to this Firefox scheme to be put in prison for challenging the Republicans this way.

Wasn't this a Democrat suggested bill? Why are you blaming the Republicans? H.R. 4065 right?

Re:Not if the Republicans have any say in this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431331)

Yes, technically he is a member of the Democratic party, but he was doing it under the orders of the GOP. The GOPpers are the ones that are trying to make it illegal to not give the government the power to brick devices. I work at AT&T, and management is very excited about the fact that we may be able to sell replacement phones to thousands of people every time the Republicans decide to use this device.

Re:Not if the Republicans have any say in this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431615)

constant huge occupy protests are just going to get larger and more powerful

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

laugh (1)

koan (80826) | about 5 months ago | (#46431015)

It will be the Netzero of OS's.

hmmm... (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 5 months ago | (#46431025)

"While there are now for the first time over a billion smartphones in use around the world -- a staggering number -- Ericsson estimates that there's an astonishing 4.5 billion people who own mobile phones. For those who paid attention in math class, that's 4.5 times as many."

huh??

firstly, the ratio is hardly needed to make the point...pretty sure everyone knows that 4.5 billion is alot more then 1 billion.

plus, i think the pointless math lesson would probably be more necessary for those who *didn't* pay attention in math class.

like an early poster mentioned...the author of this article is suspect.

Re:hmmm... (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 5 months ago | (#46431155)

Actually, while its had for people to grasp a market of a billion people, its even more staggeringly harder to grasp the idea of a non-market of 3.5 billion people.

Ode to feature phones (3, Insightful)

ahziem (661857) | about 5 months ago | (#46431047)

Not all 3.5M people want a feature phone. Benefits of feature phones include: cheaper phone, cheaper plan, smaller hardware, longer battery life, less distractions (e.g., email, social media, games), fewer privacy concerns (e.g., tracking, malware), and smaller target for theft. Also, it's much easier to text from my phone's slide-out keyboard than from a touchscreen.

Re:Ode to feature phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431251)

I reject the notion that dumbphones and smartphones are distinct, coexisting products. Its just the cost of hardware, and we are now truly at the brink of this wall to be torn down. The benefits you mention are either nuances or actually irrelevant to phone platform capabilites. You can buy smartphones with no touchscreen, large battery or with slide-out keyboard.

Re:Ode to feature phones (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 5 months ago | (#46431259)

Particularly since the majority of cell phone owners worldwide earn about $3,000 per year. The article is about The Battle for the "Good Enough" Market. I would doubt either Firefox or Android has a stranglehold on Baidu. http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/... [pewglobal.org]

lol, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431073)

Can't help but think there's something wrong with mentioning "3.5 billion people", considering that's half the population of the earth. I very much doubt 1 person out of 2 has a cellphone. This might be the number of phones out there, but not the users.

Re:lol, what? (1)

Wdomburg (141264) | about 5 months ago | (#46431213)

From the "Measuring the Information Society" report report [itu.int] prepared by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union:

"Between 2010 and 2011, mobile-cellular subscriptions uptake of both fixed (wired)-broadband and mobile-registered continuous double-digit growth in developing-country markets, but an overall slowdown in comparison with previous years. The number of mobile-cellular subscriptions increased by more than 600 million, almost all of them in the developing world, to a total of around 6 billion, or 86 per 100 inhabitants, globally".

Re:lol, what? (1)

Lennie (16154) | about 5 months ago | (#46431215)

Your doubts are wrong.

It's 3.5 billion have a feature phone, a smaller part of the human race has a smartphone.

But more than have of the people on this planet does own a phone.

The mobile war is over, Andorid has won (4, Insightful)

Britz (170620) | about 5 months ago | (#46431089)

It's over. Android has won. The iPhone will stay around with a significant market share. But current high specs for phones will be the low end in three years. 2GB Ram and a 1.5 Ghz Quad Core CPU with be in entry level Android devices in 2017. Enough to run Android any way you like.

Android already runs on so many phones. It already is ubiquitous. Microsoft might have a chance in a niche. Same as Firefox, if it comes down to it. The mobile phone market is a billion device market. Why not a couple thousand Windows or Firefox or Jolla or Tizen devices? Or Ubuntu for that matter.

Android already runs on low spec cheap entry level devices. Granted, it doesn't run them very well, but neither does Firefox atm.

Re:The mobile war is over, Andorid has won (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431201)

How has android won? iOS has more (and better) 3rd party support in both software and peripherals. It is the choice OS for BYOD and top-down deployments in corporate environments. It is a part of an immensely profitable ecosystem. Androids "victory" seems to be affirming the notion that giving something away for free is a great way to achieve market share.

Re:The mobile war is over, Andorid has won (2)

Lennie (16154) | about 5 months ago | (#46431355)

Really ? In a market of 4.5 billion phones and 1 billion are smartphones ? That still leaves a large part of the world phones not running Android.

And FirefoxOS is focussing on making it run well on cheap hardware, instead of focussing on other things.

Re:The mobile war is over, Andorid has won (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#46431589)

But that does not mean that a new contender cannot do well. With so many apps made for android, nothing it going to knock it out of the mobile market soon, but it is a crappy enough operation system to allow good ones room to compete against its and Apples monopoly.

Re: The mobile war is over, Andorid has won (2)

Scowler (667000) | about 5 months ago | (#46431599)

People said the exact same thing about Windows on the desktop, a decade ago.

FOSS? Who cares? (2)

rjstanford (69735) | about 5 months ago | (#46431095)

I'd push greater commitment to keeping the essential components of the system under FOSS licenses onto the head of that list.

If this really can work for ~3.5 billion people who currently don't have a decent mobile OS (a claim about which I remain skeptical), I guarantee you that at least 3.49 billion of them won't give a damn whether its FOSS or not. Of the remainder, most surely won't care whether its GPL, BSD, or PirateBay licensed.

Re:FOSS? Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431397)

Saying they won't care is disingenuous. The majority don't know what a license agreement is. Knowing that is relevant to learning the benefits of free software. The majority of which who use free software also don't know the benefits. None-the-less they receive them and indirectly enjoy (and a reason many use free software) said benefits.

As an example:

Free software with proper security policies (trusted developer policies such as Debian has) enables additional security (why Debian's less risky to run than Android, MS Windows 8, etc). Other developers can see whats going into the packages and the code's work can be criticized easily. There is no major restriction on code/software distribution (ie that would prevent a distribution/OS from maintaining a repository).

The users can't be deprived of there data easily. There isn't a company that can say "we don't support version x" or "we've disabled y for security reasons" (rather than fixing the issues). All these things happen in the proprietary ecosystem routinely. That printer you've got that still works? Doesn't work with Vista? Manufacturer won't release updated drivers? Too bad. That kind of thing doesn't happen with free software routinely. It does happen with GNU/Linux, but only where users adopt hackish solutions to fix non-free problems (bought a shitty anti-freedom printer with a MS Windows system and installed GNU/Linux on it rather than buying a freedom friendly system from the get-go).

The same was said of Firefox for Desktop... (1)

feranick (858651) | about 5 months ago | (#46431123)

... That it will be the most widely used browser. It grew a lot early on, but other and in many cases better products came along. Firefox browser now is all but the leader. Given the identical marketing strategy is used for Firefox OS, I just don't see how it can only be conceived that it will become the Mobile OS to beat. Seriously, has the author ever seen one of the cheap android phones out of China?

It wil be the best.... (1)

cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) | about 5 months ago | (#46431217)

And it will become the year of the Linux desktop....
And the Hurd will ship...

These are not trivial issues, especially when Google's roadmap for Android is mostly about competing with iOS at the high end.

Wasn't KitKat designed for lighter footprint on smaller devices? They're not abandoning the low end. Also, computing history is littered with corpses of companies that tried to optimize for current hardware, but spent so much time/money that the hardware caught up to "bloated" software, and they were beat. Check out how this happened withWordPerfect. [wordplace.com] where they were so happy they used assembler, but lost to nimbler Microsoft. Having a business plan that depends that hardware doesn't progress much hasn't been too lucrative.

The writer needs to remember that the market changes rapidly. The iPhone as first introduced would hit this current market with a thud. Webapps on a 2G mobile browser? Yeah, not gonna sell.

Palm WebOS tried this already. Came from a company with some weight in hardware. Landed with a huge thud.

What about developers? This might be the toughest nut to crack.

Ya think?

There's going to be a massive chicken/egg problem here. I don't pretend to know apps in developing countries, but Facebook dropped 19Billion to buy network effects in developing countries. It's still a big thing.

And lets not forget Tizen, and Sailfish. The OS waters they want to plunge into are not even empty. Good luck. I like Firefox, but they have huge headwinds.

Re:It wil be the best.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431237)

Meh... (4, Interesting)

Nicopa (87617) | about 5 months ago | (#46431287)

Just for reading the summary I can say this looks fishy. The latest Anroid release 4.4 was mainly dedicated to make Android run on smaller devices, adding tools to debug memory footprint, adding compresion of pages, sharing of things, etc. Google claims that now Android can run on a 512 MB device (which is fairly low end right now). And with ever decreasing memory prices is hard to imagine there's a place for a "lower than lower end" OS.

The "being open" reason is also not good enough. As a technology (i.e. removing Google services) Android is 100% free software. And the reason some telcos might want Firefox OS is to have a more closed environment which they can control.

Maybe Firefox could have been working to create its own Android fork, replacing Google service with Firefox services. That would be, IMO, much cooler.

Horribly ignorant premise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431333)

This article is completely unaware of the realities on the ground. You can pick up a Kyocera Rise or Event at Radio Shack now with Android on it for $20 or less on sale. And KitKat is already being optimized for lower end phones precisely due to what he's saying. Firefox doesn't have a chance in hell against Google Play on a KitKat $20 phone in a year or two. It's DOA.

If Microsoft can't get a viable app store together after throwing millions at developers and having a really nice OS on low end hardware with decent market availability, what chance does Firefox have? None.

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431361)

This OS is going to be huge. Android is a POS and deserves do die just like Microsoft OS.

What do they want? (2)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 5 months ago | (#46431375)

You can easily buy a pre-paid Android phone for $40-$50 today. It's believable to me that with the steady progress of technology, $20 Android smart phones will be available in a year or two anyway.

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46431455)

If they want it to run on low end hardware, they're going to have to fix the memory leaks instead of just pretending they don't exist.

Firefox OS is just trying to copy chromebooks these days.

How is this cheap? (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 5 months ago | (#46431627)

The ZTE Open is $69 - $79 unsubsidized.

Huawei has three unsubsidized phones for $79 before rebates.

http://www.metropcs.com/metro/... [metropcs.com]

What's the advantage of the FFOS phone over the cheap Android phones?

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