Mozilla has announced a new mobile operating system which will be truly open in it strict sense, unlike Android. The new operating system is called “Boot to Gecko” and will be developed in the open, source code released to public as it is being developed, suggestions taken in and a open mobile OS built.
Boot to Gecko(B2G) will be based on Gecko code which is what Mozilla’s famous browser Firefox and the email client Thunderbird uses. B2G will also use some Android kernels and drivers to make the OS run on Android devices.
We will do this work in the open, we will release the source in real-time, we will take all successful additions to an appropriate standards group, and we will track changes that come out of that process. We aren’t trying to have these native-grade apps just run on Firefox, we’re trying to have them run on the web. (Andreas Gal)
Now here’s the confusing part. If it is a OS, how can it run on another OS. B2G is being targeted for the web, which is where the future is. The computing is slowly moving to the web with browser being the desktop and the network being the server. May be that’s an oversimplification but eventually all you might be needing is a browser with an Internet connection. It really doesn’t matter where you are accessing it from – computer, mobile or tablet.
HTML5 which is constantly evolving has made sure that all you need for building apps is just the browser. Be it geo-location based game or storing files on your home device, it all be achieved with HTML5. Mozilla’s B2G is yet another boost to the HTML5 which is already warm, but isn’t hot yet. Of course, this is on the assumption that B2G will use HTML5 heavily.
What does this mean to Android? It’s not a death knell to Android but definitely a serous threat. Android is already facing dangers from all corner for its Google’s patent swagger. If all goes well as per Microsoft+Oracle+Apple’s plan, Android will no longer be free and there will be all kinds of licensing fees which will be kicking in. Which means, the cheap Android phones we have been seeing will be slowly evaporated and they will be replaced by some pretty expensive Android phones. Thus eroding Android’s free advantage.
Device manufacturers will slowly look for cheaper alternatives and that’s where B2G might actually have a shot. Android might not be going away anytime soon. But its dream run has just ended.