Firefox OS sinks its teeth into low-end smartphones

In an impressive first-year achievement, Firefox OS has found a toehold in a fiercely competitive smartphone market. The next challenge for Mozilla's browser-based mobile operating system will be to convert that toehold into a foothold.

As the struggles of BlackBerry OS, Microsoft Windows Phone, and Samsung Tizen have shown, it's extraordinarily hard to find any room in a mobile operating system market where Apple's iOS and Google's Android dominate. Yet Mozilla has managed to do just that by focusing on super-low-cost smartphones and on partnerships with carriers who want something to offer in markets where even … Read more

It's curtains for Songbird

Songbird, an iTunes alternative that originally combined music playback and management with Web-based music discovery, will exit stage left permanently at the end of the month.

CEO Eric Wittman revealed in a blog post that Songbird will no longer be maintained as of June 28, and that its parent company, Pioneers of the Inevitable, also would be closing down.

"[T]he company has found ourselves unable to fund further business operations," he said. The open-source desktop version of Songbird, its mobile apps for Android and iOS, and its music discovery service will all go dark. Wittman … Read more

Camino browser for OS X reaches end of life

Development of the long-standing alternative browser Camino has been cancelled.

Camino was one of the first alternative browsers for OS X, developed using the Gecko engine. Starting initially under the name Chimera, it offered a number of optimizations over Apple's Safari browser, and an alternative to Firefox before Chrome even existed.

Yesterday the browser's development team announced that Camino would no longer be developed, citing an inability to keep up with the fast pace of Web development, and encouraged Camino users to look to other browsers to maintain a secure and fast Web experience:

After a decade-long run, … Read more

Global allies give Mozilla's Firefox OS a mobile foothold

BARCELONA, Spain--Laying the groundwork for its nascent Firefox OS, Mozilla has won over a sizeable list of allies including LG Electronics and China Unicom, and the first phones with the browser-based operating system should arrive in the second quarter of the year.

Mozilla announced today at the Mobile World Congress show here that it's persuaded 18 mobile network operators and four mobile phone makers to back its open-source mobile operating system. That's not enough to unseat the incumbent powers of Google's Android and Apple's iOS slayer, but it is enough to ensure Firefox OS at least … Read more

JavaScript expert: WebKit, get your bug-ridden house in order

It was a good day for the WebKit browser engine yesterday when Opera Software adopted it in place of its in-house Presto. But yesterday's developments also became an opportunity for a high-profile JavaScript programmer to lodge criticisms about WebKit.

"Each release of Chrome or Safari generates excitement about new bleeding-edge features; nobody seems to worry about the stuff that's already (still!) broken," complained Dave Methvin, president of the jQuery foundation and a member of the core programming team that builds the widely used Web programming tool, in a blog post.

"jQuery Core has more lines … Read more

Web world bemoans loss of Opera independence

It might have been a smart strategic move for Opera Software to move to the WebKit browser engine and scrap its own Presto, but some think it's a step backward for the development of the Web overall.

"A switch to Webkit might benefit Opera. It's just not going to benefit the open Web," Mozilla's Robert O'Callahan said today in comments on his blog about Opera's Presto change-o. "This will strengthen the WebKit mobile monoculture and make it even harder for us to promote Web standards over 'coding to Webkit.'"

Browser engines … Read more

Opera embraces WebKit in browser brain transplant

Opera Software, an independent voice in the browser market since the 1990s, will dramatically change its strategy this year by adopting the WebKit browser engine used by Safari and Chrome.

The Norwegian company announced the move today and said it will show off the first fruits of the work with a WebKit-based version of its Android browser at the Mobile World Congress show in less than two weeks. But the company will move to WebKit for its desktop browser, too.

A browser engine processes the Web page instructions written in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS then renders the results on screens. … Read more

GeeksPhone reveals Firefox OS phones for developers

A small Spanish startup called GeeksPhone has started selling phones that let developers get a taste of Mozilla's new Firefox OS.

GeeksPhone announced two 3G phones for the browser-based operating system, the lower-end Keon and higher-end Peak. The phones, while geared for programmers rather than mainstream customers, make Mozilla's open-source mobile OS a lot more real, since programmers will be able to develop apps as well as to debug and advance the underlying operating system.

Firefox OS is Mozilla's ambitious attempt to build an operating system that brings more openness to the walled gardens of Apple's … Read more

Mozilla's browser OS gets partners and a name: Firefox OS

Mozilla's browser-based smartphone operating system has grown up a notch, winning over partners such as Sprint and ZTE and picking up the marketing-friendly name of Firefox OS.

In addition, Mozilla has announced several partners, a necessity for making a bunch of software into something people actually use: only a very small number of people have the skills and interest to install a mobile-phone OS.

Carrier Telefonica and chipmaker Qualcomm already were partners that emerged when Mozilla announced B2G at Mobile World Congress earlier this year. They'd said to expect phones by the end of 2012 then, but now … Read more

Hands-on Boot to Gecko: Interesting, but far from baked

NEW ORLEANS--Mozilla may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to mobile technology, but that may change early next year. Its mobile operating system code-named Boot to Gecko is developing rapidly, but it will face challenges both technical and tech cultural.

Judging from my colleague Stephen Shankland's take on how Boot to Gecko performed at its public unveiling in February, Mozilla has definitely made progress with the phone. The build I used was installed on a Samsung Galaxy S II.

The interface appears to be a mix of traditional iOS-style app icons, and Windows Phone-style … Read more