CNET’s Stephen Shankland offers this informative look at the progress Firefox OS has made since coming to market last summer. Mozilla’s web-based mobile operating system “has found a toehold in a fiercely competitive smartphone market,” Shankland writes, describing its traction as “an impressive first-year achievement.” And while hard data on sales of Firefox OS is almost nonexistent due to its newness, Shankland cites Telefonica’s claim that the platform accounts for 12 percent of the carrier’s sales in Venezuela and 8 percent in Colombia.
There’s a lot to like about Mozilla’s mobile strategy, as I’ve written frequently over the last year. While the saturated smartphone market in North America and Western Europe is dominated by Android and iOS, low-cost smartphones are a great fit for emerging markets where feature phone penetration remains high and mobile broadband networks lag behind more mature markets. And Mozilla continues to build an impressive alliance behind Firefox OS, indicating that its strategy of focusing on web-based technologies appeals to carriers and developers.
Firefox OS claims a tiny presence in some of the world’s smaller mobile markets, so even the term “toehold” may be overstating its progress. But Mozilla continues to build the coalition backing the platform, and the company will once again use Mobile World Congress to plug the OS. And while emerging markets have quickly become nearly as competitive as more mature regions, Mozilla boasts a head start on Ubuntu Touch, Jolla’s Sailfish and other web-based operating systems that have yet to launch. We’re likely to know by the end of the year whether Firefox OS has staying power, or whether it succumbs to the pitfalls of being the first real HTML5-based mobile platform to hit the market.