Boot To Gecko: Mozilla's OS Entrance In The Mobile Market
Drawing many parallels from Google's browser-based Chrome OS, B2G hopes to "break the stranglehold of proprietary technologies over the mobile device world" according to Andreas Gal, Mozilla researcher. Because of the focus on mobile devices, Mozilla initially hopes this OS will focus on both phones and tablet devices, but many predict that this could grow into a full computer OS.
One of the key new developments with B2G comes from new Web API's that will allow web apps to access device specific properties, such as Bluetooth, speakers, microphone, text messaging, USB and NFC chips. Security will definitely be an issue here to make sure web apps are not accessing phone specific information that contains private data.
Apart from the fundamental difference on the booting of the OS, another key distinction is the release cycle of the source code. While most open source software is released in different versions with major changes, B2G will be released in "real-time," where each new feature will be added immediately, creating an increasingly quick release cycle. Mozilla has already made some of the source code public.
With all these interesting and cool features, one of the questions many are asking is whether B2G will survive in the competitive mobile OS market. With competition against iOS and Android, plus newcomer Windows Phone 7, questions arise as to whether Mozilla is creating the next Nokia MeeGo. Some think that B2G has a lot of theoretical potential while others are skeptical.
According to PCMag's Sascha Segan, B2G is "already doomed." One of the key reasons for this is the data usage of a cloud-based OS. Carriers are already stressed with data usage and having to boot an OS from the cloud would only increase the stress. Along with the heavy data usage, a cloud-boot OS would require no dead zones, which is still not feasible. Furthermore, Mozilla's track record with the mobile market has been subpar, especially with the mobile Firefox released for Android, which has received a few below average reviews as compared to other Android browsers.
In contrast, Brennon Slattery of PCWorld believes that B2G could do well in theory. By providing an API to connect common phone capabilities with the web, Mozilla has opened up a possibility to true cloud computing. By creating an OS that is not under control of one particular tech company, but is theoretically portable to any device from the start, potentials are great. Effectively, Mozilla has a chance at changing the status quo of device specific apps to truly universal apps.