Will Firefox on tablets lead to lower-cost offerings?



The specs for the first tablet that has been designed to run Mozilla’s Firefox operating system have been published this week by project head Asa Dotzler as the OS prepares to give Apple’s iOS, Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Google’s Android a run for their collective money.

The blog posting says that the tablet will feature an ARM Cortex A7 quad core processor running at 1GHz with a PowerVR GPU and 2GB of RAM. It will have 16GB of flash storage that presumably can be upgraded via its MicroSD slot.

The tablet, called the InFocus New Tab F1, will feature a 10.1 inch 1200 x 800 touch screen and have dual cameras, a 2megapixel and a 5MP camera as well as support 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi but no cellular support, at least in the first go-around.

The tablet is not a surprise since the company showed the OS for mobile phones a year ago at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and has been talking about the tablet since last summer when it said that it would partner with Foxconn to build the device. The interesting thing will be what impact it will have, if any, on its rivals.

The Firefox operating system has taken a big chunk on market share in the PC browser space, which along with Chrome has given Microsoft’s Internet Explorer much more competition that it could have wished for.

A number of handset developers use the mobile Firefox OS in offerings for emerging markets and now we will see if tablet developers will follow suit. There are an increasing number of low-cost offerings that offer primarily Android OS but along with the OS there are already a huge number of apps, probably as important as the OS.

It looks like an uphill battle for the OS, but it is also a hill that the development team has surmounted in the past. I could see purchasing a low-cost tablet that could be dedicated for single use. However for fans who want a tablet to serve as a second screen option, slow, low resolution offerings will not make it, but could serve to free up a primary, higher quality tablet for a more dedicated use as well.

Friday Grab Bag: MLB + MTV, Braves on the move

The Braves are leaving Atlanta, in all but name, to move to nearby Cobb County and a brand new stadium, one that the bill will primarily be paid for by taxpayers in a county that has budget problems.

The Atlantic does a nice job pointing out how Atlanta may get even more and that most of the jobs that are created by the new park will be low-paying jobs that cost a lot to create. I think the citizens should take a look at how a sweetheart deal paid off for Miami residents and their new ball yard.

Android market share growing
While it seems that Apple’s iPhone is always in the news, smartphones that run on the Android operating system actually rule the smartphone world, with an 81% market share according to market research firm IDC.

Its most recent study on that market space has one very interesting fact, that Windows phones are making strong headway, but still are only 5% of the market. The leader in the Android space is no surprise, as Samsung started strong and has maintained a constant stream of upgrades.

Sports highlights in Canada
If you live in Canada, or for that matter simply read Canadian newspapers a bit more sports is coming your way. SendToNews, a digital sports video company has signed a deal with Postmedia Networks to deliver sports highlights.

The highlights can be seen on Postmedia Network’s newspaper web sites that are available for different papers in different regions of the country.

If you miss the days when MTV played all music videos and have disliked the network ever since it stopped doing so this may not be for you but the it has signed a multiyear partnership with MLB that will focus on the intersection of pop culture and baseball.

The effort will be a cross-platform one and will have MLB players as well as outside of the sport celebrities looking at the sport and modern culture. The first program expected will run on MTV2 and will be a 30-episode show that will be produced by Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Pittsburgh Pirates Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.

New Apple iPhone
Now that Apple has delivered two new lines of iPhones the rumors have started for the next generation — boy that did not take long. Leading off is that it will have a bigger screen, something that many had predicted for the latest release.

More interesting is that they may have curved screens and that Apple will continue to pack them with new sensors, with the latest able to detect levels of pressure. They are reportedly due in about 1 year, so don’t start holding your breath too soon.

Mozilla says no Firefox phones in U.S.
If you are one of the people waiting for open source software to arrive on your phone, and you live in the United States, you will have a wait ahead of you. While the software is expected to be out by mid-2014 for Sprint network devices, that does not include the USA.

An executive recently told C/net that there are currently no plans to launch in the U.S., but that the organization is in talks with carriers and handset manufacturers so that could change in the future.

Firefox Powered Phone Here- Tablet on the Way


Developers now have another platform to write apps for in the mobile device market as Mozilla, the organization that is behind the free Firefox web browser has started rolling out smartphones that run a Firefox operating system.

Mozilla is claiming that by using Web technologies it has an original take on how smartphones will operate. On first glance it sounds like a lot of other OS that are available. It will include the ability to make calls, messaging, email, camera and has built-in social features with Facebook and Twitter.

One interesting new feature is an adaptive search app that finds a range of related components to a search topic- the example give being you search an artist and find not just songs but concert tickets, song and album purchase and more. The OS has the ability to enable users to create customized apps for single or long term use as well.

Users can look for global and localized apps at Firefox Marketplace that will include everything from business apps, games and news and media offerings.

The rollout will be regional in nature with devices soon to hit the market with the Alcatel One Touch Fire and the ZTE Open phones offered by Duetsche Telekom and Telefonica. Telefonica is expected to start selling the phones in Spain and then move to South America.

Executives for Telefonica said that the company expects to have a range of smartphones running Firefox OS by the end of the year with a range of price points as the company will seek to aggressively go after the Android and Apple iOS market.

According to Mozilla the platform will be supported by approximately 20 hardware and operator backers globally with carrier Telenor set to launch their first Firefox OS phones in Central and Eastern Europe this year.

So that is what we have today, and Brendan Eich, Mozilla’s CTO has said that tablets that will also be capable of running the operating system are on the way, and while declining to give a timetable for when customers can see the devices, he did say that it would be soon.

This will be interesting. When the Firefox browser came out many thought it was dead on arrival and yet it has wrested away a huge chunk of market share from the established power, Microsoft. Now it is attacking another market, one that does have more diversification that the web browser space did but still fairly insular. The failure or success will obviously be determined, at least in part, by developer support because users are not expecting a wide variety of apps for their phones and its hard to see any mobile OS survive without a wide variety of offerings.

Mozilla to Build Firefox Driven Tablet?


The latest and greatest rumor going around is that Mozilla, the non-profit behind the popular Firefox operating system, may be looking to create a tablet that will use the Firefox operating system.

The rumor has a kernel of truth, something that many often do not, in at least Mozilla is announcing a new hardware product next Monday, it just has declined to say what it is and what the target market for the product will be.

The move is not that surprising if it is a tablet since it would fit in with its Open Web initiative that includes the first commercial build of the Firefox OS and efforts to build a global ecosystem for that OS that has already gained 18 operators including Alcatel, Deutsch Telecom, Telefonica, Sprint, Qtel and others. However this move was for smartphones so it seems logical that the next step would be for tablets.

The question seems to be why would the company enter the tablet space rather than license it out to the market as it is doing in the smartphone space? At the time of the Open Web push, back in February at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona the company said that hardware was in its future and I believe that many expected it to be a smartphone, considering the circumstances of the announcement.

It said that it is working with manufacturers Alcatel (TCL), LG and ZTE, with Huawei to follow later on to build the first Firefox OS devices. They will all be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processor family. But it was not ignoring the content side and said that it has signed strategic relationships with key content and service partners. It should be noted that at the time it specifically said that all of this was for smartphones.

So will we see a series of smartphones from Mozilla and partners Monday or will we see a tablet? It will be interesting to see which it is. One thing for sure is that Mozilla has said that Foxconn, the company that does a great deal of work with Apple in building its iOS products, will be the manufacturing partner.

Friday Grab Bag: ESPN3 and Facebook Team for Hoops Tournaments

Facebook and ESPN Team on Conference Tournaments
For much of the next two weeks ESPN3 and Facebook will combine to show coverage of all of the myriad college conference basketball games in both the men’s and women’s brackets. This means that users will have access to all 225 live broadcasts.

ESPN3 has indicated that while this is its first partnering with Facebook it will not be its last as it seeks to leverage the huge audience that the social media giant commands. As ESPN3 vice president Damon Phillips said “We see this as a big opportunity. You fish where the fish are.”

However in keeping with the mantra that there is no such thing as a free lunch not all users will be able to access the games from Facebook. If you have a cable TC carrier or a broadband hookup from a carrier that broadcasts ESPN3, then you get the games for. If not, you are on the outside looking in with no games.

Siri now more insufferable?
I actually like Siri and have found the voice to be very helpful when I have used someone’s iPhone that has the technology, it is just the people showing me how many tricks that they can make it do that really annoys me.

Well now they have a new venue as Mercedes-Benz has integrated the Siri into it’s a-Class cars. The Drive Kit Plus will integrate the iPhone with the cars’ electronic platform. This will allow the Mercedes-Benz’ Digital DriveStyle App to display iPhone apps on the infotainment system screen, according to Cnet.

It will be at Mercedes-Benz’ discretion as to which apps the user can add and control but there will be some such as Twitter, Facebook and Aupeo Personal Radio will be available.

Yahoo joins in the patent fun!
Yahoo has been meeting with Facebook to resolve issues regarding a group of Yahoo patents that it asserts are being used by Facebook in a variety of applications including ads, privacy controls, news feeds, and messaging services.

The exact number of patents is not clear and has been reported as being between 10-20, now is the dollar value that Yahoo is placing on these patents. Yahoo has not taken the step of filing suit and the move is being widely viewed as an attempt to paint a positive picture of Yahoo’s overall patent portfolio as a positioning move in case the company can find a suitor to buy it.

Apps can steal your photos?
It is starting to seem that every new day brings a new manner in which data can ‘leak’ from your smartphone. The latest, courtesy of the New York Times, is that there is a group of apps that can copy a user’s entire photo library with no alert.

The problem is, at least so far, confined to iOS devices such as the iPad and the iPhone and appears to ask a user for location information and if that is approved it not only gathers that information but also downloads photos as well to a remote server. I hope it gets mine in focus, I never can

Mozilla helps you track who is tracking you
In a case of turning the tables on data trackers, Mozilla has created a Firefox add-on called Collusion, an experimental program that is designed to enable you to see who is tracking your activity across the web.

The program uses a simple, easy to understand format. As you browse the web a graph is produced showing sites represented as dots. Red for ones that are known trackers, gray for ones that might track you. You can hover your cursor over a dot for more information. It is interesting to see the interplay between sites and how fast sites that you do not visit are now tracking you. The program also allows you to turn off tracking.

Intel Capital Launches Connected Car Fund
Intel Capital has launched a $100 million fund that is dedicated to developing new technologies in automobiles. The Connected Car Fund will invest across the board in hardware, software and service companies that are developing technologies for cars.

The range of areas is large with the company expecting to invest in areas such as information and entertainment systems, wireless connectivity, mobile devices and driver assist technologies. The global fund will seek to invest in all stage companies over the next three to five years.