Firefox Aurora Browser Gets Marketplace for Android Apps

Developers can now submit Android apps to the Firefox Marketplace. Mozilla hopes the store will offer feedback to both developers and its own team as it works to grow the Firefox mobile platform.  

For Android device owners running Firefox's Aurora browser, Mozilla has launched a Firefox Marketplace app store. As most Aurora users are developers and early adopters, the goals of the Marketplace are to provide developers with feedback on their apps and for Mozilla to collect feedback on the store's "design, usability, performance, reliability and content," Mozilla Labs Engineering Manager Bill Walker said in an Oct. 18 blog post on the Mozilla Hacks site.

Walker added that so far, developers Mozilla has spoken with say they're receiving "timely and thoughtful critiques."

On the Firefox blog, the company said that the release "will help lead the way for future Marketplace Aurora, Beta and Firefox OS releases in 2013."

For now, the Marketplace includes apps in the categories of games, productivity, and news and media, and all can now be browsed and installed.

It's currently also rather sparsely filled, but the look and feel are familiar, with a five-star rating system, short descriptions and a space for that desired feedback. Installing the apps is standard, and they run outside of the browser.

The Verge—which likes that users can filter search results based on relevancy or ratings, and that search results can be basic or expanded—points out that "shortcuts to Firefox apps are placed on your home screens, but you won't find them in the Android app drawer. If you remove the shortcuts, you'll have to fire up Aurora and navigate back to the Marketplace to see which apps you have installed."

While the OS is fledgling, it may have a bright future ahead.

Research firm Strategy Analytics, in an Oct. 9 report on global smartphone figures by operating system, said that while it expects Google's Android and Apple's iOS to continue to dominate through 2017, it also expects a bit of fatigue with these incumbent players to set in.

As such, "We also forecast nascent platforms such as Tizen and Firefox OS to grow in popularity, as the benefits of HTML5-based 'cloud phones' become more apparent," wrote report author Scott Bicheno.

While consumers may feel fatigued by certain platforms, they'll in no way lose interest in smartphones, the firm added. On Oct. 17, the firm announced that the number of smartphones in use around the world had surpassed 1 billion units during the third quarter.

Neil Mawston, executive director of the firm's Global Wireless Practice, blogged that this was still "relatively low," as now only one in seven people in the world owned a smartphone, by Strategy Analytics' estimate.

"There remains huge scope for future growth, particularly in emerging markets, such as China, India and Africa," he added.

While it took the industry 16 years to reach the 1 billion milestone, Mawston added, "we forecast the next billion to be achieved in less than three years, by 2015."

Instructions for downloading Firefox Aurora to an Android phone and visiting the Firefox Marketplace are available at the end of the Mozilla blog post.