I didn’t really know when I was getting into when I started this project. I never used a Firefox OS device before the 30 Day Firefox OS Challenge and I didn’t even try it in the simulator. I just jumped in head first very aware of how easily this could fail and hoped for the best. On the other hand my hopes were pretty high since there is a certain standard of quality we have all come to expect from Mozilla. And the reason why I decided to go through all of this was to find out if Firefox OS is really as bad as a lot of articles I have read described it to be. So… is it?
After 30 days of using Firefox OS device (namely ZTE OPEN) as my daily driver I’m convinced that it is a great operating system for what it was made for, and it is very important to keep the purpose of this OS in mind to give it a fair evaluation. Let me explain, most articles I’ve read about Firefox OS threw it right up against iOS and Android and naturally came to a conclusion that it’s too far behind the competition and is an interesting but failed project at best. But Mozilla never intended to compete with iOS and Android, they found a void in the mobile market that Apple and Google have missed, low cost devices. Naturally low cost means low power, at least compared to the latest and greatest devices on the market, and this is the kind of hardware Firefox OS was designed to shine on. I’m not really blaming other reviewers for dismissing Firefox OS so easily, especially at its current state because I’m guilty of it too. In one of the previous posts I said that FFOS is not ready to be called a 1.0, I was wrong. It is easy to think that Firefox OS is unfinished when you compare it to other operating systems that have been in development for much longer but the fact is that FFOS 1.0 meets all the initial goals of the project, it’s stable and it has all the features to be called a smart phone. It has served me well for 30 days and I didn’t have any major problems with it, I spend most of my time with version 1.0 but I know that most of the problems I did encounter have been fixed already in 1.1 and later releases. For someone who is using the newest available Android, Firefox OS will feel a little rough and unfinished but it’s not for them. FFOS has been made for people who couldn’t afford a smart phone before or don’t want to get stuck with an expensive contract to get a better phone. Not that FFOS is somehow dumbed down compared to the competition, I was able to do with my ZTE Open pretty much everything I do with my Android, even if sometimes it would require a few extra steps, the exception here are the hardware intensive tasks like browsing through big pdf documents. So overall Firefox OS gets my stamp of approval, not that it really matters since it’s already a success, according to information from October it made up more than 12 per cent of smartphone sales in Venezuela and almost 9 per cent in Colombia (source) which is really good for a product that the general public is not familiar with.
Developing for Firefox OS was just as easy as making a website, in fact it wasn’t much different. Thanks to the fact that all apps are made in HTML5 it doesn’t require good hardware to compile and test on and because this technology was designed to render identically on different devices you won’t need to own a stack of phones to make sure your app runs well on all of them. Use of HTML5 also means that it’s very easy to port your projects to and from FFOS. If you ever had to look anything up in Mozilla Developer Network you already know that the documentation is solid. The process of submitting an application to the Marketplace is as straightforward as it could be and there are no fees involved, and even though I ran into some trouble there the support I received was great. Folks at Mozilla obviously recognize how important it is that there are a lot of apps available for Firefox OS so they made a system that is easy and non-intimidating to for newcomers to develop for and comfortable for seasoned developers.
So if you are in the market for a good, inexpensive device I strongly recommend that you take a look at one with Firefox OS on it. And if you are a web developer I think you should have an even closer look, this new market may just be your opportunity to make a fortune on a new killer app.