Terrence O’Brien for Engadget:
We’ve caught glimpses of Mozilla’s smartphone offspring before, but Mobile World Congress 2013 was really the proper coming out party. Finally we’ve been given a chance to touch it, see it action and peek at the hardware it’ll be running on. Unfortunately, at this cotillion, Mozilla failed to make a good case for anyone to court its debutante.
Firefox OS continues to intrigue me in some ways, but overall, I’m getting the sense that O’Brien will be right here. Because, well, history.
“We see an opportunity to serve users by converting them from feature phones to inexpensive smartphones. The action is in the emerging market, not going up against the top end of the market in the US, where Android is chasing Apple.”
Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich talking to TechWeek Europe about Firefox OS.
On one hand, I think this approach is smart. Mozilla doesn’t have the ability to compete in the high-end of the smartphone market. But the low-end is ripe for the picking, and is going to come into play quickly.
On the other hand, I think it’s unwise to think that Apple and Android are simply going to cede the emerging markets. Apple clearly cares a lot about China. They’ve had some success there, but they need to get a cheaper iPhone on the market if it’s really going to work. Brazil, I imagine, will be extremely important to them as well. That’s going to be a tough call for Apple — just how far into their margins they’re willing to dip.
Android, of course, is the “free” OS, so naturally they’re going after the emerging markets as well. Except that “free” in this case often means paying Microsoft to use Android. Oh and some OEMs seem to want to do their own things with Android in those markets and then Google threatens to expel them from their “open” alliances.