Microsoft and Blackberry are desperate to cement themselves as the No. 3 mobile software maker. Don't look now, but here comes Firefox.

By Fortune Editors
June 4, 2013

What is this?

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 and Google combined control over 90% of the mobile OS market. Attempts by Microsoft and Blackberry 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.) Here's a closer look at the revolutionary operating system.
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 and Google combined control over 90% of the mobile OS market. Attempts by Microsoft and Blackberry 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.) Here's a closer look at the revolutionary operating system.

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

Making calls The built-in dialer is conventional.
Making calls The built-in dialer is conventional.

The built-in dialer is conventional.


Apps ... sort of

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

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


Text messaging

Text messaging This is what the relatively simple texting app looks like.
Text messaging This is what the relatively simple texting app looks like.

This is what the relatively simple texting app looks like.


Music

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

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


Browser

Browser Naturally, Firefox OS comes with the Firefox web browser.
Browser Naturally, Firefox OS comes with the Firefox web browser.

Naturally, Firefox OS comes with the Firefox web browser.


Store

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

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


Apps

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

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


More

More And Wikipedia.
More And Wikipedia.

And Wikipedia.

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