Mozilla announced their "Boot to Gecko" project at a large mobile fair in Barcelona. Partnering with Telefonica, Mozilla believes that their truly open OS could slash the costs of hardware required to build a competitive smart phone by a factor of 10. If they can pull this off it would certainly disrupt the space currently dominated by Apple and Google's Android. "We want to pioneer a category," Brendan Eich, who is Mozilla's chief technology officer (and the inventor of Java script).
The idea behind Boot to Gecko is that everything would be totally web based. Phone, messaging and other applications would be directed through the web exclusivley. This would negate much of the specialized software which iOS and Android has to use and which requires high speed processors and lots of memory. This would cut the cost of the phone by orders of magnitude.
The question though is would it really be comproable to iPhone and Android phones? Or even to Windows phones which have lower hardware requirements than Apple and Google's phones? If not it may be a tough sell in areas where the iPhone and Android have already captured markets. On the other hand where smartphones have not achieved critical mass due to high costs, this could be just what the doctor ordered. South America is a perfect example of this.That would explain Telefonica's interest. Bringing a low cost phone to Brazil alone (one of Telefonica's biggest markets) could yield millions of units sold.
I have said for sometime that Mozilla needs an OS of its own to compete in the mobile market. Without it, they will always play second fiddle to Chrome, Safari and even Internet Explorer. With the world going mobile, not having a horse in the race is a sure receipe for failure. I always thought they would adopt an existing OS that needed a home. I thought WebOS would be a great choice. I really didn't think they would try to go out and build one from scratch. But I do like the strategy, they need something that makes their mobile OS special. Making it run cheaper is one way of being special. However, it remains to be seen if this strategy will yield a phone that can compete feature for feature with the still and current champions of the market.
If it does pan out, we will have a truly open source mobile OS managed the Mozilla Organization which the open source community supports. It could be a game changer in perhaps the biggest market out there.