Firefox OS devices are also being released by some of the top smartphone manufacturers, including surging companies like ZTE, LG and Huwaei. ZTE’s smartphone shipments were up 79% on the year this quarter, and the Chinese manufacturer captured 4th place worldwide according to Strategy Analytics.
While it’s big on Android devices, ZTE’s collaboration with Intel (INTC), support for Firefox OS and heavyweight presence in emerging markets has the potential to chip away at both the ARM (ARMH) and Android domination of smartphones.
As pointed out by the Wall Street Journal, becoming a viable third platform requires not just the support of smartphone manufacturers and carriers, but also developers — an area where Microsoft and BlackBerry have struggled.
The fact that Firefox OS seems to have strong developer support is yet another factor that should concern Microsoft and BlackBerry. Mozilla’s open-source approach helped push the Firefox web browser to being a developer favorite and the Firefox OS — with its embrace of open web standards — is also being talked up in that community.
In addition, Mozilla has committed to the “most aggressive” mobile OS release schedule, promising quarterly features updates. And while Google says “Don’t be evil,” Mozilla’s credo is: “Doing good is part of our code.” In many ways, the open-source approach of Firefox OS is delivering on many of the promises that Google made to developers about Android that have fallen by the wayside.
It’s going to take a while before we know for certain whether Firefox OS has legs (it’s not even slated to hit the U.S. market until 2014). But with the big push beginning this summer and support from smartphone makers like ZTE, it’s conceivable that Firefox OS will officially hit the charts and not be rolled into the woeful “other” category.
From there, it’s not a huge leap to imagine single digit marketshare — a development that would slam Microsoft and likely be the death knell (if it hasn’t not already sounded) for BlackBerry’s BB10.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.