Is there room in the already crowded smartphone market for another operating system? With Apple and Android grappling for dominance while Microsoft and BlackBerry duel for third place, you’d think that another company would have a hard time getting a foothold, let alone becoming an actual competitor.
So, on the outside, it looks like Mozilla is heading toward certain destruction with their recently announced mobile operating system. But once you read their pitch, you can see where they’re coming from…and you’ll see why they may very well succeed.
Here’s the thing about the Mozilla operating system: it’s not going to directly compete with the likes of Android and Apple. Not at all. Instead, Mozilla wants to continue its mission that began with the Firefox web browser: it wants to bring internet access to everyone. For this reason, the new OS (and the new phones that will run it) will be built for developing nations, where smartphones (and sometimes internet connections) aren’t the norm. Mozilla Corporation chief executive Gary Kovacs described the company’s game plan thusly:
“Right now the mobile world is busy and it’s because there is so much economic value to be gained by owning the platform. We’re not trying to get in the middle of an operating-system fight; what we are trying to do is be the catalyst to drive more development around the open web.”
But that’s not all. The most fascinating component of of the Mozilla operating system is not its intended audience (which feels like a nice combination of social charity and taking advantage of an untapped market), but how apps will be downloaded and used. Right now, the vast majority of apps are purchased or downloaded through iTunes or the Google Play store, not necessarily because they are well liked and popular (both are frequently a nightmare to navigate and use properly), but because they feel like the only option. If your app isn’t on one of the two big stores, how is anyone going to find it?
Mozilla thinks there is another way, a way that will make apps readily available to anyone with one of their phones without the app developers having to pay a cut to Apple or Google or users having to rely on two stores. Mozilla smartphones are going to built almost exclusively around web apps. That means that you download the apps straight from the developer’s site, cutting out the middle man entirely and letting the two parties in the transaction reap all of the rewards. That’s unheard of…and if it catches on, it’s the kind of thing that could leave the likes of Apple and Google shaking in their boots.
Mozilla is proposing a mobile world that is completely devoid Apple and Android. While there will be a Mozilla store that will allow users to download certain apps, the user will be allowed to design his or her experience, limited not by what’s in a store, but what what’s available on the entire internet. This isn’t just a potential game changer for users, it’s a potential game changer for developers. Is this the future?
(Do you have a great app idea? Rocksauce Studios wants to help you make it!)