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.
Yesterday, in response to my post about the intrigue behind the new Google/Mozilla search deal, Peter Kasting, a founder member of the Google Chrome team, took to Google+ to respond. It’s a good response that you should read. And the comments are illuminating as well.
But it doesn’t change anything that I wrote.
As David Ulevitch (who I quote in the original article) points out in the comments, nothing Kasting or I say is really in conflict. Kasting is actually just responding to one small piece of the bigger puzzle (which he himself notes in a follow-up comment). He takes exception to the notion that Google and Mozilla are competitors with Chrome and Firefox, respectively. “Google is funding a partner,” he writes (and italicizes for emphasis).
That’s a nice view. I might (and will) argue that it’s a little too straightforward — so much so that it borders on naiveté — but I believe Kasting and many of the other people working on Chrome believe it. That view is why they do what they do. And it’s why they’re great at what they do. They’re not just building a product, they’re helping the web.
But I don’t work on the Chrome team. I work on the reality team. And to ignore the other layers here would be foolish.
I’ve been thinking more about Google’s renewal of their search deal with Mozilla for Firefox. It’s fascinating on a few different levels. Most notably: Google is committing close to a billion dollars to bankroll a browser which is a rival to their own browser.
Well, on the surface, they do get something out of the deal — something quite substantial. Firefox is a browser used by millions of people. Thanks to this deal, it means that almost all of those users will also be Google (Search) users by default.
I don’t know what the exact percentage of searches flowing through Firefox is, but you can bet it’s massive. Google searches mean Google ads shown. This is still by far their primary way of making money. Makes sense. Got it.