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The first mobile devices running Firefox OS are out in the market. It’s too early to say how well Mozilla’s new open internet HTML5 mobile platform is doing in its quote to steer spending plan buyers far from Android gateway gadgets. Which is, make no error, precisely the hope of the carriers tossing their weight and influence behind this alternative open platform.

A raft of carriers signed up to sustain Firefox OS at its launch announcement back in February. According to Mozilla 17 carriers are currently committed to distributing gadgets (namely: América Móvil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison 3 Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia Team, Telefónica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom). So far only a handful of devices have actually gone on sale, including the ZTE Open and Alcatel One Touch. Even more are evidently due to be announced this year.

It is, to reiterate, the extremely starting of the Firefox OS job. Telefónica started offering the first consumer phone running FFOS in Spain at the start of this month – the $90 ZTE Open. It states it will not be breaking out sales for individual models however inquired about very early sales indications, a spokesperson stated: ‘The team is really delighted with how it’s going in Spain.’

But it’s not simply carriers putting FFOS phones in the market. Being an open platform there’s scope for smaller sized punters to get included, such as hardware startup Geeksphone, which put out two Firefox designer preview devices (called Keon and Peak) back in April, selling out within hours. Geeksphone has actually now followed those up by revealing its first consumer-focused gadget, called the Peak+.

The Peak+ is $196 (omitting taxes) on pre-order, with a somewhat higher price tag prepared when it goes on sale in September. ‘Firefox developer sneak peek is no longer where we want to be. We’re progressing towards a customer market,’ Geeksphone CEO Javier Agüera tells TechCrunch. ‘Geeksphone has actually constantly been offering to any consumers and individuals since its foundation four years and a half ago … [At first] we went for the developer preview branding since we wished to target those very early adopters, those early individuals who were developing the ecosystem, and we felt that was a natural thing to do.

‘Now we are developing to a more consumer-oriented standpoint – back to our origins. We’ll keep obviously a developer-friendly brand, with some distinct attributes, but target everyone.’

So far, so excellent – for Firefox OS and for the variety of the mobile environment. Even Android followers can probably get behind the idea that another open mobile platform providing option is A Good Thing. Some might even concede that tough Google’s capability to control and manage the mobile ecosystem could be eventually helpful, too (assuming Firefox OS can construct momentum, of course). Diversity can cultivate advancement, after all.

But it’s not all excellent. Mozilla isn’t generally suched as in the open-source area. Quite the reverse. The organization has a reputation for ‘viciously defending its brand name,’ as MeeGo start-up Jolla’s Marc Dillon put it in thinly veiled remarks previously this year at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow – where Firefox OS was being really publicly endorsed by carrier club, the GSMA. Dillon shared the phase with Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker and Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth in a panel conversation about open platforms, and the underlying tensions between the smaller sized punters and the marvelous old dinosaur of open were palpable.

Mozilla has a reputation for being slow-moving, lumbering and having teeth. Similar to its dinosaur logo. You can describe it as the Microsoft of the open-source motion. Which doesn’t seem like the kind of Android-challenging champ the mobile world needs today. And yet Mozilla’s corporate mindset and approach have actually clearly made a lot of (similarly conservative) carriers comfortable about working with it – which is maybe the only means Android can be challenged at this point, being as it’s circa 70 percent of the international smartphone market.

Here’s the most up to date example of Mozilla’s corporate values in activity. Last week the company called publications (including TechCrunch) that’d reported on Geeksphone’s brand-new ‘Firefox OS’ Peak+ device to request a ‘correction.’ Mozilla’s e-mail stated the Peak+ isn’t ‘Firefox OS certified’ so can not be referred to as a Firefox OS phone. Rather it needs to be called being ‘based upon Boot to Gecko’ technology – the preliminary moniker of Mozilla’s Firefox OS project.

Here’s the complete statement Mozilla requested accompany the Peak+ information:

Today, Geeksphone announced the pre-sale of a brand-new device based upon Boot to Gecko technology. We wish to clarify that this brand-new phone that was revealed is based on Boot to Gecko technology with pre-release software application, however isn’t an accredited or sustained Firefox OS gadget.

As I kept in mind in an update to the TechCrunch story, this is a problem of brand control. Technically speaking, Geeksphone hasn’t yet jumped with the certification hoops to attain FFOS accreditation. But it’s highly most likely that that’s because it’s not possible for Geeksphone to do that yet. The startup declined to comment about the certification issue when called by TechCrunch, noting that they’re partners with Mozilla and have been working carefully with the company to build the Peak+.

From the outside searching in, it’s difficult not to conclude that, regardless of this obvious collaboration, Geeksphone is being dealt with as a second-class citizen vs. the carriers backing FFOS. After all, Telefónica’s first FFOS gadget (the ZTE Open) does carry the Firefox OS brand name. So it’s possible to acquire certification at this early phase – at least, if you’re involved with among the carriers backing Mozilla’s open-platform play.

It’s possible that Geeksphone, with its more limited and therefore targeted resources, has not already been able to divert the required effort to obtaining certification yet. But Mozilla’s response, when I requested for explanation about its Firefox certification guidelines, recommends otherwise – considering that they revealed they’re still finalizing their processes. Which in turn recommends the Peak+ branding bottleneck is being caused by the lumbering dinosaur, not the active startup. (Case in point: it took Mozilla’s PR one whole day to get these very partial answers to my certification questions.)

Q. Exactly what do device makers have to do to accomplish accreditation as a Firefox OS gadget?
A. Because each gadget maker is a different entity, the details of Firefox OS accreditation differ somewhat from one to an additional. We’ll be publishing more information about how future partners can end up being Firefox OS accredited soon.

Q. Do Firefox OS certified devices have access to particular apps that non-certified devices do not? Such as the Firefox Marketplace?
A. As discussions with interested parties continue, we’re finalizing our standards for device makers.


  • Mozilla (obviously) has not decided exactly what FFOS accreditation requires – therefore it’s being slow
  • But Mozilla is also being irregular due to the fact that carrier sustained devices have actually had the ability to obtain the Firefox OS brand stamp
  • Ergo, Mozilla is playing favorites – specifically preferring its carrier supporters

Really, those conclusions mustn’t amaze, given Mozilla’s late-to-the-mobile-market position and track record for difficult development. It’s attempting to turn those weaknesses into strengths by cosying approximately the only folk likely to laud them. No wonder numerous carriers are so keen to deal with this open-source alternative. Mozilla’s branding strictures and usage enforcement are corporate modus operandi that’ll reassure the conservative telcos they’re treading familiar ground with Firefox OS, that this open ecosystem is nevertheless policed to order, not urged towards anything-goes chaos.

Mozilla is demonstrating its desire to back carriers’ desire to manage and to have in order to differentiate itself from Android’s free-for-all which has wound up weakening telcos’ control of users and accelerating the decrease of their traditional revenue streams. Fast-tracking carrier-backed devices to the front of the FFOS branding certification line up is simply symptomatic of that underlying pro-telco technique.

Mozilla has made something of a Faustian pact to attempt to develop an alternative open mobile ecological community. And with Android so rampantly dominant, that may have been a required compromise to give FFOS a short lived possibility. However it still leaves something of a bitter taste to anybody who roots for David over Goliath.