Remember back when Windows 95 and NT were OSes to beat and Mac OS had reached a pinnacle point? That’s about the time when NeXT and BeOS started to get major attention. Both are gone today, but I think it’s safe to say that all OSes have some parts influenced by those early players. Recently Canonical announced a preview of a mobile phone (and tablet?) OS based on Ubuntu and today Mozilla has announced new Firefox OS developer preview phones.
Firefox OS is built entirely using open web standards. So HTML5 apps can do phone things like make the phone vibrate, make a phone call or send a text message.
Here are the specifications of the two phones that were announced for developers:
The Keon model
- CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 1Ghz
- UMTS 2100/1900/900 (3G HSPA)
- GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (2G EDGE)
- Screen 3.5″ HVGA Multitouch
- 3 MP Camera
- 4GB ROM, 512 MB RAM
- MicroSD, Wifi N, Light and proxmity Sensor, G-Sensor, GPS, MicroUSB
- 1580 mAh battery
- Over the air updates
- Unlocked, add your own SIM card
The Peak model
- CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.2Ghz x2.
- UMTS 2100/1900/900 (3G HSPA).
- GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (2G EDGE).
- Screen 4.3″ qHD IPS Multitouch.
- Camera 8 MP (back) + 2 MP (front).
- 4 GB (ROM) and 512 (RAM).
- MicroSD, Wifi N, Light and proxmity Sensor, G-Sensor, GPS, MicroUSB, Flash (camera).
- Battery 1800 mAh.
While I don’t think Ubuntu or Firefox OS will gain much traction in the market, I think we all have something to gain from them being out in the wild.
By all accounts the Ubuntu phone OS is pretty slick and interesting gesture-based mobile OS. Canonical demoed devices running the early versions of of the OS on a few phones (I would hope a tablet version is coming, because I think that would be something worth trying) at CES and from the reviews I read it is an OS with promise. Not polished by any stretch of the imagination and it might be a year or more before we see Ubuntu phones on the market (if ever).
But that doesn’t matter.
Because while the Firefox OS (looks a lot like Android and iOS I think) and Ubuntu OS are niche players now, and will probably remain niche players. Their existence is sure to inspire improvements and developments in iOS, Android, and maybe even Windows Phone 8.
And that’s the real point.
I’m sure Apple knows that iOS needs a boost. Heck, Google and other Android partners need to keep that ecosystem fresh too. One of the best ways for the whole mobile ecosystem to improve is for new entrants to come in and try to shake things up. Sure, they might fail in becoming dominant mobile OSes (of course I’m sure the same was of Android before Google bought it), but I believe that their mere presence will have a ripple effect we’ll all enjoy.
The article hasn’t been updated with the specifications of the Firefox OS phones.