Mozilla Could Have Trouble Winning Vendor Support

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-07-26 Print this article Print

6. There's no concrete plan

If one digs into what Mozilla has said about its Boot to Gecko program so far, they will quickly find that the organization doesn't seem to know what it wants to do and how to get there. In a post announcing the project, the organization said that "some pieces of it are only captured in our heads today, others aren't fully explored." That's not a good thing. If Mozilla wants its platform to be a success, it needs to know where it's headed and how to get there. Without that, it will be in for trouble.

7. Lost amid the competition

Let's say that Mozilla finally gets its standalone operating system up and running and it delivers that to the mobile space. What are its chances of actually succeeding? Android will be dominant by then, the iPhone iOS platform will continue to be a favorite with smartphone buyers around the globe and Windows Phone 7 will be scrambling for market and mind share. Lest one forgets, there are other operating systems in the mobile space, including MeeGo and Bada, which smartphone buyers don't know or care about. Mozilla's platform seems to be a fine candidate to follow those platforms into obscurity.

8. Vendors won't support it

One of Mozilla's biggest issues might be getting vendors to support yet another operating system. Right now, several smartphone makers, including HTC and Samsung, support multiple mobile operating systems. By adding another to their rosters, not only will their hardware-development costs go up, but they might also run the risk of cannibalizing sales of their other products. What's more, both Google and Microsoft will do everything they can to coax vendors to stick with their platforms and not add another to their product lineups. As nice as Mozilla's operating system might eventually be, it might find itself hard-pressed to recruit vendors willing to invest in a whole new platform that might or might not catch on with customers.

9. Does Mozilla have the power to change things?

In a forum discussing its plans with members of its community, Mozilla said that it has the goal of "breaking the stranglehold of proprietary technologies over the mobile device world." That's a fine goal. But one needs to consider whether Mozilla has the power to actually achieve it. Unlike Google, which has immense power, Mozilla is best known for its browser. And that browser is starting to lose some of its support due to small, frequent updates. Until Mozilla can achieve the same level of importance and power as some of the other companies in the mobile space, it will have a hard time achieving its goals with its mobile OS.

10. The Chrome OS comparison

Ever since Mozilla unveiled its plans to develop "a complete, standalone operating system for the open Web," comparisons have been drawn between it and Chrome OS. If those comparisons are carried out to the end, they will need to consider the fact that Google's Web-based operating system has an unsure future and could very well remain marginalized by Windows. If Google can't get its platform to succeed given its influence and the popularity of its brand what makes anyone think a Mozilla alternative would?

11. Apple, Microsoft will fight

Mozilla's biggest threat might be the companies that support the closed-off, proprietary standards that the organization is trying so hard to fight against. Companies like Apple and Microsoft probably don't want to see Mozilla succeed, simply because it could have a tangible, and potentially negative effect on their mobile goals. And the worst part for Mozilla is that those companies have boatloads of cash behind them to help push their agendas. Mozilla has the cards stacked against it in the mobile space, for sure.

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Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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