Over the past year or so we’ve seen a number of Open Source based Operating Systems come to the forefront on the mobile front. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone – or the first smartphone you’ve ever bought – the chances are that you’re going to come across one of two operating systems: Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Windows Phone is slowly gaining ground but it’s far from ready to compete and RIM’s BlackBerry 10 is playing a risky game of launching a new, unproven, perhaps a tad later than they can afford. There are a number of alternatives however, that are rising up and looking to take on the big players with Linux-based OSes built around Open Source tech. Mozilla has a project like that in the works that has a heavy reliance on the web and Samsung are hoping that Tizen – born out of the ashes of the ill-fated MeeGo project – has what it takes to muscle in as well. Ubuntu has now entered the game as well with their Desktop OS brought down for the phone and offering seamless integration with the desktop.
ZTE, whom you might know as purveyor of budget smartphones and the people behind CES’ Grand S, are apparently planning to bring a smartphone to market powered by Mozilla’s Firefox OS. If you’re unfamiliar with the Firefox OS then you take a look at Mozilla’s Website to tell you more. Essentially, Firefox OS is an Open Platform that will allow users freedom to explore the web just as they want and is betting on the app future of the web to solve the “app problem” that is an issue for many of these new OSes that are arising. The Chinese manufacturer have said that they are seeking partnerships with carriers to provide phones running Firefox OS, in order to reduce its reliance on Google’s Android OS. I find it a little strange that they would want to go to Firefox for their smartphones over Android, both platforms are open and ZTE seem happy enough to do a lot to Android to make it their own. Perhaps it’s the carriers that really want to get away from Google’s Android?
Of all the open source systems that are popping up for smartphones Firefox’s OS could be the least well-known of the bunch. After all, there’s no proof that Mozilla can deliver such a thing, whereas Tizen has the backing of Intel and MeeGo that came before it has already shipped in devices. Meanwhile, Ubuntu’s phone OS looks like most like a product we might see on the shelves and for years they’ve been delivering a solid desktop OS.
All of this sounds very interesting but, do you think that any of these OSes have what it takes to put even the smallest chink in Google’s armor?