Like the operating systems on your computer, there are really just a few big players in the mobile OS market. Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS take up the lion’s share of mobile operating systems, followed by Windows’ OS and Blackberry’s.
So is there room for one more? We’re about to find out. Firefox, the popular open source web browser owned by Mozilla, is getting ready to launch its own operating system for smartphones. Mozilla plans to offer Firefox OS starting in July, but not in Western Europe, the U.S, or China. Instead, the company will focus on countries in Latin America and Eastern Europe.
“There are still billions of people who are yet to come online, especially in emerging markets,” says Mozilla Chief Operating Officer Jay Sullivan. “We believe there is room for more choices and more options for them.”
To get into some of these emerging markets, Mozilla will need partnerships. Not only with smartphone makers, but telecommunication companies such as mobile network provider Telefónica. Yotam Benami, the director of open web devices at Telefónica, says a huge number of potential smartphone customers don’t have consistent online access yet.
“So really, the smartphone becomes their first personal device to access the Internet,” Benami says. “Something that we think is a very important insight in designing the offer and product.”
Benami also points out that in Brazil, people with internet access are often heavy users. The big challenge for companies is getting customers to actually buy the devices and online connection that Telefonica and Mozilla offer.
Correction: The original article misstated the name of Mozilla Chief Operating Officer Jay Sullivan. The text has been corrected.