Meet the OS Google and Apple should worry about

Updated: Jun 04, 2014 8:45 PM UTC | Originally published: Jun 04, 2013

What is this?

Firefox OS is a lightweight, inexpensive operating system for phones being developed by the Mozilla Foundation, the group that makes the popular Firefox web browser. Why is Firefox going in this direction? After all, Apple (aapl) and Google (goog) combined control over 90% of the mobile OS market. Attempts by Microsoft (msft) and Blackberry (bbry) to cement third place -- with market share in the low single digits -- have proved expensive and not-so-successful. Firefox OS isn't going after the top of the market -- at least not yet. Introduced earlier this year, the operating system is initially aimed at low-cost handsets in developing markets. Firefox OS is based on Linux and is open source. It is designed to allow web-like HTML apps to directly control a device's hardware using JavaScript and so-called web API's. Mozilla's interest is in establishing or cementing web technologies, as opposed to some of the closed approaches of other big players. So far, initial Firefox phones have been low-frills affairs. But Taiwanese giant Foxconn -- the world's largest manufacturer of electronic devices -- is going to put some weight behind Firefox OS. (Foxconn, of course, puts together devices for Apple and Nokia (nok).) Here's a closer look at the revolutionary operating system.

Making calls

The built-in dialer is conventional.

Apps ... sort of

Firefox's apps are actually self-contained websites or web apps.

Text messaging

This is what the relatively simple texting app looks like.


The operating system comes with a built-in music app that scans on-board media for files it can access and play.


Naturally, Firefox OS comes with the Firefox web browser.


Firefox's marketplace is much like Apple's App Store.


This is what the Twitter web app looks like running on Firefox OS.


And Wikipedia.