Welcome!

Article

Mozilla FirefoxOS – a Classic Marketing/Technology #FAIL

"Technology searching for a problem" rears its ugly head

In a world of iOS, Android, Windows 8 - who needs another Mobile Operating System?

One has to wonder what the folks over at Mozilla are thinking with their newly announced Firefox OS for mobile devices.

The Mobile OS Market
According to the latest IDC Research reports, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows and Linux accounted for 98.7% of all smartphone shipments in Q4 2012 (IDC Worldwide Mobile Phone Tracker, 2/14/2012).

That leaves scant market opportunity for anyone trying to get into this market.

The top five players have already established their positions in the market - with each owning a segment of the market that has substantial (and perhaps insurmountable) barriers to entry.

The OS Players and Their Niches
iOS: Applications galore - at least 700,000 applications from the Apple App Store - plus a hoard of applications available for jailbroken iPhones.  An astonishing 20 Billion application downloads from the App Store in 2012 alone.

Android:  Wide distribution - Open Source and based on Linux.  The fastest growing mobile operating system (80% year-over-year change) and the largest market share (70% in Q4 2012).  A robust Open Source community, and a litany of device vendors have thrown their weight behind this OS.

Windows: Microsoft - enough said.  Windows 8 has the potential to capture significant mobile device market share - blurring the lines between PCs, Notebooks, Tablets and Phones with a single operating system that will actually run real versions of the applications most of us use every day at work.  Although currently only capturing 2.6% of the market (Q4 2012), expect this number to rise.  I've always been a dedicated iOS user (iPhone & iPad), and I'm seriously considering Windows 8 for that reason alone.

BlackBerry: Legacy (and shrinking) installed base.  Granted, that's not a great place to be in this race - it's the undesirable "magical quadrant", so to speak.  But it's good enough to earn them third place and  a 3.2% market share in Q4 2012.  There are a lot of die-hard BB fans out there who want to get their hands on the new BlackBerry 10.

"Others": These are the dead and dying mobile operating systems - like Symbian and WebOS.   Their parent companies, Nokia and HP respectively, have abandoned them - having decided that the world doesn't need yet another mobile OS.  Nokia has adopted Windows and HP recently sold off WebOS to LG Electronics, who will use it for consumer electronics like televisions (WebOS is a a rather nice platform - it deserves a life somewhere).

Why a New OS?
So with pretty much every corner of the mobile OS market sewn up, exactly what was Mozilla thinking?  Where is the "room" in this market for a new OS?

More importantly, what is the need from the consumer perspective?

This is the great marketing fail.  It's as if Mozilla took a look at their wares and said "hmmm... our browser share is tanking...having lost a third of its market share since 2010.  What can we build with what we got??"

This sounds like a classic "engineering #fail" - focus on the technology instead of the consumers' problems and the market opportunity.

The Great Big #FAIL
Although Mozilla can clearly create a mobile operating system that leverages the Web - exactly which consumer problem does this solve that isn't already being solved by iOS, Android, Windows and the other existing players in this space?  What advantage does this new OS bring to the market that disrupts the status quo?  Why would anyone want to buy this product?

It's a classic "technology in search of a problem to solve".

CNet reports "Working in its favor is the fact that Firefox is a browser-based operating system, meaning that Web applications such as Facebook already work for it without the need for Mozilla to marshal an army of programmers to write apps" and "And about attracting app developers, he (Gary Kovacs, Mozilla CEO) quipped, ‘There's a Web for that.'

Well, to massacre a quote from famed author Isaac Asimov, "Quips are the last refuge of the incompetent".

Anyone who uses a smartphone knows that these so-called "Web apps" aren't the answer.  Web apps are the things you build when you want to crank something out quickly and "good enough" is fine.  Nobody really enjoys using a Web app - people want robust applications that really leverage the capabilities of their expensive mobile device.

Gary Kovacs - credit to Stephen Shankland/CNET

Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs speaking about Firefox OS at Mobile World Congress 2013.

Perhaps he's thinking "D-oh! I can't believe I just said 'there's a Web for that'"

(Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET)

As Larry Seltzer, Editorial Director at Byte Magazine aptly stated, "nobody is happy with lowest common denominator interfaces. BYOD has especially undermined the ability of IT and ISVs to get away with such a strategy. People see all the slick apps that are optimized for their platform and they look down on apps that are plain and unsophisticated."

"Web-based" is Table Stakes
Having a "Web-based" mobile OS is hardly a strategy for success.  I'm not even sure what that means, or why it's an advantage.  Every mobile OS can claim to be "Web based".  It's just that they would rather not do so, as it's not an advantage.  Web based is just table stakes.  It's not a competitive advantage.

As Seltzer states: "It's an old argument, one you especially make when you don't have a strong argument for your hardware or software. This is definitely the case with Firefox OS, but it's even worse than that."

Hope for the Future?
Maybe Vizio will need an OS for their televisions.

More Stories By Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis Tibbetts, or @SoftwareHollis as his 50,000+ followers know him on Twitter, is listed on various “top 100 expert lists” for a variety of topics – ranging from Cloud to Technology Marketing, Hollis is by day Evangelist & Software Technology Director at Dell Software. By night and weekends he is a commentator, speaker and all-round communicator about Software, Data and Cloud in their myriad aspects. You can also reach Hollis on LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/SoftwareHollis. His latest online venture is OnlineBackupNews - a free reference site to help organizations protect their data, applications and systems from threats. Every year IT Downtime Costs $26.5 Billion In Lost Revenue. Even with such high costs, 56% of enterprises in North America and 30% in Europe don’t have a good disaster recovery plan. Online Backup News aims to make sure you all have the news and tips needed to keep your IT Costs down and your information safe by providing best practices, technology insights, strategies, real-world examples and various tips and techniques from a variety of industry experts.

Hollis is a regularly featured blogger at ebizQ, a venue focused on enterprise technologies, with over 100,000 subscribers. He is also an author on Social Media Today "The World's Best Thinkers on Social Media", and maintains a blog focused on protecting data: Online Backup News.
He tweets actively as @SoftwareHollis

Additional information is available at HollisTibbetts.com

All opinions expressed in the author's articles are his own personal opinions vs. those of his employer.

Latest Stories
Regardless of what business you’re in, it’s increasingly a software-driven business. Consumers’ rising expectations for connected digital and physical experiences are driving what some are calling the "Customer Experience Challenge.” In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Marco Morales, Director of Global Solutions at CollabNet, will discuss how organizations are increasingly adopting a discipline of Value Stream Mapping to ensure that the software they are producing is poised to ...
When NSA's digital armory was leaked, it was only a matter of time before the code was morphed into a ransom seeking worm. This talk, designed for C-level attendees, demonstrates a Live Hack of a virtual environment to show the ease in which any average user can leverage these tools and infiltrate their network environment. This session will include an overview of the Shadbrokers NSA leak situation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
Interested in leveling up on your Cloud Foundry skills? Join IBM for Cloud Foundry Days on June 7 at Cloud Expo New York at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Foundry Days is a free half day educational conference and networking event. Come find out why Cloud Foundry is the industry's fastest-growing and most adopted cloud application platform.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, will motivate why realizing the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insigh...
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, pane...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
As enterprise cloud becomes the norm, businesses and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance related to data privacy and information protection. The most recent, Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU’s GDPR have board level implications and companies still struggle with demonstrating due diligence. Developers and DevOps leaders, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by in...
The 21st International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Existing Big Data solutions are mainly focused on the discovery and analysis of data. The solutions are scalable and highly available but tedious when swapping in and swapping out occurs in disarray and thrashing takes place. The resolution for thrashing through machine learning algorithms and support nomenclature is through simple techniques. Organizations that have been collecting large customer data are increasingly seeing the need to use the data for swapping in and out and thrashing occurs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DivvyCloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DivvyCloud software enables organizations to achieve their cloud computing goals by simplifying and automating security, compliance and cost optimization of public and private cloud infrastructure. Using DivvyCloud, customers can leverage programmatic Bots to identify and remediate common cloud problems in rea...
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri, Inc, a leading provider of enterprise cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Tintri offers an enterprise cloud platform built with public cloud-like web services and RESTful APIs. Organizations use Tintri all-flash storage with scale-out and automation as a foundation for their own clouds – to build agile development environments...
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing bes...