So yesterday the 24th Feb – prior to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – Mozilla announced the launch of its Firefox operating system for mobile. Its pretty late on the scene and it’s not just any scene but a bloody battlefield with some of the worlds biggest heavyweights having it right out in front of everyone, but Mozilla clearly feel they have something different to Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows, et all.
So whats different you ask? Well Mozilla are positioning this as an operating system with true open web standards at its heart – the very essence of Mozilla’s brand has been focussed and driven into a mobile OS that uses html 5 as a user facing proposition. A very commendable undertaking, because developing an OS that doesn’t step on anyone’s toes (those heavyweights have very large and sensitive toes!) whilst delivering a user experience that the users actually like is a very difficult task.
We haven’t checked out the OS yet, but we like the relative simpliicity of the core value. If its aligned with Open Web Standards then it’s in, if it’s not then it’s out. As you would expect a smashingly nondescript exectuive has come out with some crap,
“Every device is better if it’s social and we’re excited that Firefox OS users will have easy access to the mobile Web-based version of Facebook that will take advantage of our current and future features,” said Vaughan Smith, VP of Mobile Partnerships at Facebook.”
But what really actually counts is the following;
1. Does it deliver as promised?
2. Is it different?
3. Is it disruptive?
4. Can I work it intuitively from the first moment I pick up a device?
We’ll know the answers to these questions fairly soon and we’ll be reporting our thoughts. Until then, its over and out
The Windows 8 preview is here and apparently we can expect a second preview in June this year.
How do we feel about it? Well I can’t say I’m too impressed from what we’ve seen so far. First of all let’s cut to the chase, Microsoft is not the power house it once was and has half the market capitalisation of its eternal rival Apple (yet still dominates the PC market in terms of volume). Therefore Windows 8 is going to have to be a game changer in terms of experience and functionality for it to regain lost ground and ultimately some customer traction against Apple & Samsung is the future Smartphone/Tablet wars.
Historical elements such as the ‘Start’ button have gone and along with the tab system along the bottom, it’s very close to the remarkably well reviewed Windows Mobile OS. However I feel they have missed the point of the digital lifestyle with gaudy colours and an ‘App Jigsaw’. You don’t have to be bullish to create something new and different and that’s the trap Microsoft’s top guys have fallen into, it looks like they are trying to be different for the sake of it rather than really considering what their beleaguered yet still massive influential customers actually want.
They want a User Experience that is compelling and intuitive but most of all they want to find hidden surprises – this is what the customer wants. Yeah sure they will be content with an integrated system that allows them to switch easily from playing FIFA on their Xbox to sitting infront of a desktop to then hunching over the phone on Facebook for some good honest stalking. But they expect that as a matter of course and it shouldn’t be your driving force and listening to Windows President Steven Sinofsky and looking at the preview you get the feeling that creating an ‘integrated system’ was their goal and unfortunately that isn’t going to get the public’s juices going.
An integrated system with the same navigation and UI across their hardware is very Apple, yet Microsoft seem to have failed to hit the right note because they weren’t doing it for the right reason. They were doing it to create one look-n-feel as opposed to thinking about creating some magic and giving their customers a stify.
I expected more as the noises coming out of the Windows team and Microsoft over the last couple of years after Windows Mobile OS have been encouraging.
Their other big problem is Nokia and no matter how good your relaunch’s are, if you’re stood on the deck next to Captain Nokia on the Titanic you’re only ever going to sink. A partnership with Nokia is strategic suicide.
It appears the blackberries are in season, both the juicy dark berry and the smartphone. The smartphone wars have been spicing up recently with iPhone launching the 4S, the Samsung Galaxy S2 winning the ‘Phone of the Year’ award and Android holding the market share for operating systems. As others bask in glory BlackBerry’s headlines are less positive (although they are pun-tastic) with data services being compromised for successive days on a global scale with trouble spreading as far as the US and Canada. The timing is not great for BlackBerry’s owners RIM, coming after a testing 12months. This starts to raise the questions what next? To us it seems like BlackBerry is ripe for the picking and I’m sure that the big players in the smartphone wars will be lining up their pieces ready for an attack.
I love a conspiracy theory and some of my thoughts after Steve Jobs passed were focussed on the timing with it being so close after the press conference. I mistakenly suggested to the office that he passed before the launch of the iPhone 4S and the information was withheld to ensure that publicity would not be affected. I was berated for the opinion (although I do stand by it). The unfortunate timing of the issues that are affecting BlackBerry and my love of a conspiracy theory got me thinking of corporate espionage. I do blame the advent of such shows as Spooks and 24 which have left us in little doubt that there are events that transpire daily that are withheld from the public. For example, what would prevent one of the major companies attacking BlackBerry in this way in order to reduce the share price and therefore make it less expensive to acquire the company? Granted, I am not remotely suggesting that either of the companies have done this but if publicly funded services under the guise of public safety conduct searches and covert operations, then surely businesses are also capable of questionable actions. Enron, Microsoft, Nestle and Coca Cola have all been subject to one controversy or another during their trading life so it would appear that dishonest behaviour in business is far from exceptional.
Regardless of the circumstance I think we could be in for a game changing few months in the smartphone industry and with any battle there will always be casualties. Could there be a BlackBerry or Apple crumble on the cards?