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Mozilla Firefox OS - Just an 'Academic' Exercise?

firefoxFrom the 'Mozilla Bashing' Files:

This week, the big news is that there are now a pair of Firefox OS developer phones.

In my opinion, Mozilla would do well just to simply support the same basic specs as the OpenHandsetAlliance/Android at the firmware level. That's the basic approach that I think Ubuntu is taking now too. Though as we all know far too well, hardware is a key differentiator when it comes to mobile – no matter how much software vendors might argue otherwise.

While I'm personally optimistic about the prospects of Firefox OS, there are some detractors.

"Much like Chrome OS in the desktop, Firefox OS is an interesting academic exercise that will test the limits of what is currently possible with mobile web technologies," Nick Dillon, senior analyst at Ovum, stated. " However, a web-only Firefox OS will not facilitate a dramatic change in the approach to mobile application development. There is already good support for HTML5 web technologies on the existing major smartphone platforms, meaning that there is little need for another platform in order to drive their adoption forward. "

I'm not sure I agree with the notion of Firefox OS being an academic exercise. Mozilla has engaged with carriers and hardware vendors and that counts for a whole lot.

Instead of vaporware, Firefox OS (as evidenced by the dev phones announcement) is real and it's coming soon. Mozilla Labs, which starts interesting projects and then (more often than not) leaves them to die is the experimental academic area of Mozilla. When Firefox OS was just Boot2Gecko – maybe you could have called it an academic exercise, but that's not the case anymore.

Mozilla's Firefox OS is a business exercise and one that will test the market for its appetite for a truly open platform.

It is up to Mozilla and its myriad partners to properly articulate the vision, but ultimately the free market will determine the fate of Firefox OS.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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