Gary Kovacs says Firefox OS can make significant impact on mobile development
Speaking at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, he said that the web-based mobile operating system would encourage the adoption of open standards in mobile development, allowing more people to participate in the mobile web.
Kovacs likened this to the achievement of the Firefox browser, which forced the adoption of certain web standards and has contributed to the creation a browser market that has never been more competitive.
MWC has been a coming out party of sorts for Firefox OS, which is targeted at emerging markets. Mozilla released the first commercial build of the platform last Sunday, with support from 18 carriers confirmed, while ZTE also unveiled the first smartphone running the software and will release it in Spain, Colombia and Venezuela later this year.
“We are about to go on an explosion like nothing we have ever seen before,” Kovacs declared, stating a fact that would be taken up later by Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop, that although it took 22 years to get the first billion people online, it would take just five years to add the next two billion.
“For the next two billion people, we might have to reconsider the entire mobile model,” he said, explaining that all these new users would want localised, relevant content for their devices.
Kovacs said that although the prevailing attitude in mobile might be “there’s an app for that” when users want to find a restaurant, hotel or bar, all of this information comes from the web. He said that the attitude should instead be “there’s a web for that.”
“Firefox OS is a catalyst for the web to come online,” he said, “[but] to act as a catalyst is to put a call out for participation.”
It’s just the web
However, the call will not extend to financial support. Kovacs said that Mozilla, as a non-profit organisation, simply does not have the resources to help developers and would instead focus on releasing the APIs that give access to functions such as the camera.
He said that in any case, there was simply no need to find funds: since Firefox OS apps are HTML5-based, people are already developing them. He said that by using an open standard, the platform would encourage the creation of content, just like what happened on the web when AOL’s walled garden came crashing down.
The Mozilla chief said that he wanted to see numerous app stores and numerous services, saying that there shouldn’t be just one or two people unnaturally controlling the platform and choosing what content people can see.
“The web is now ready for mobile,” he said. “It’s not another ecosystem, it’s just the web.”
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