Mozilla announced the smartphone based on the Firefox mobile OS. You won’t see this ZTE Firefox OS phone soon, but what it does and how it looks compared to the iPhone will surprise you. Six years after the iPhone launched another competitor arrives with less.
Not So Smartphone
This new ZTE web-based Firefox phone goes on sale in Spain and Portugal through Telefonica and Alcatel so don’t look for it at a major U.S. carrier any time soon.
A number of European carriers have signed on to push the Firefox phone into the smartphone market later this year.
What does the Firefox OS phone do different than an iPhone? First, it’s an HTML5 smartphone; web-based, without native applications.
Essentially, Firefox OS mimics HP’s discarded webOS, but it’s really just a browser instead of a smartphone filled with apps.
How and why is that better than an iPhone? It’s not even much less expensive, with the price coming in at about $90 with a cell phone plan.
In other words, the Firefox OS won’t be as robust or powerful as an iPhone, or most Android-based smartphones, and not nearly as powerful or have as many apps as a Windows Phone or BlackBerry.
What does the Firefox OS smartphone look like? An iPhone. Or, maybe a cheap, plastic Fisher-Price-like iPhone knockoff.
Maybe it shouldn’t even be called a smartphone because it’s not nearly as smart as phones already on the market. This attempt to attack Apple’s market dominance from the low end is doomed to failure, and it points out what all other smartphone makers not named Samsung have had trouble bringing some very good phones to market.
Six years after the iPhone was announced, BlackBerry, Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and even most Android smartphones haven’t brought much that’s new and different to compete with the Apple standard.
New smartphones have a large touch screen, icons for apps, all day battery life, maybe even an all metal case and a camera with specs better than an iPhone. That’s just not enough to top an industry leader.
Product marketing is such that only a few rules apply. To compete against a market leader, a new product must completely match the top product in features and performance, and cost less money. Otherwise, what’s the compelling reason to switch? Likewise, a new product priced at or near the market leader’s product must have better features and performance, for, again, what’s the compelling reason to switch?
The Firefox OS might be the new version of HP and Palm’s webOS but it is too little and too late to make anyone any money or sell in large enough quantities to remain a viable product. The original iPhone set a standard far above what was the smartphone standard of the era in 2007. Apple continues to raise the bar, while competitors merely introduce similarly packaged products.
That’s not a recipe for success.