RealTime IT News

Mozilla Rebrands Linux Powered Boot to Gecko as Firefox OS


From the 'Following in Google's Footsteps' files:

For years, I've been saying that a Firefox OS is a good thing (and hey there is no shortage of Linux appliances that are pretty much that).

Now at long last, Mozilla has seen the same light and is rebranding the effort once known as Boot to Gecko (B2G) as Firefox OS.

Yes, it does sound familiar for other reasons...doesn't it?

Google also has an operating system named after a browser with Chrome OS. Both Chrome OS and Firefox OS are based on and leverage Linux at the core.

In the Firefox OS case, Linux is what the bare metal phone hardware will run that Firefox layers on top off. Linux is not however the defining tech of Firefox OS, it's just the boot time tech and the web, with Firefox as the engine is the real star of the show (again very similar to Chrome OS).

Chrome OS is however a very different beast than Firefox OS. With Mozilla's creation, the web is the app store and mobile is the name of the game. As opposed to Chrome OS, which is currently a dead-end platform which only Samsung seems to be interested in backing. Firefox OS now has wide industry support, something that Chrome OS, never had. So far, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor have pledged to support Firefox OS.

Yes this will create a second major Linux based smartphone OS (no i don't count MeeGo, Tizen).

It also means that Mozilla as a company is shifting its brand strategy somewhat. With Firefox OS linked to a mobile OS, the Firefox platform brand will also now be confused as a mobile-first brand. While I don't disagree that mobile is where the growth is, I'd strongly recommend to the braintrust at Mozilla to not forget about the hundreds of millions using Firefox today. It is clear that as an OS platform, Firefox could have (and I think should have) also done something akin to Chrome OS (as well as extending it out to smart phones).

But Mozilla is doing what it must here - it's brand equity is inexorably tied to Firefox today. The only way it can get that 'instant' recognition is by extending (and in some part - cannibalizing) the Firefox brand. Think about it - who would know what a B2G phone is?
 ON the other hand, a Firefox phone? It's a story (and a brand recognition exercise) that writes itself.

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.