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With Back to Gecko, Mozilla looks to the mobile market

Back to Gecko is the working name for a new Mozilla mobile initiative.

By Matthew Shaer / July 28, 2011

Boot to Gecko, a new mobile Mozilla OS, is forthcoming. Does it have a shot?

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Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind the popular Firefox browser, is looking to expand its operation – straight into the mobile market. Writing on the company wiki, Mozilla reps said they were in the early stages of developing an open-source operating system called Back to Gecko, which would be collectively authored, and work on both tablet computers and smartphones.

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"This project is in its infancy; some pieces of it are only captured in our heads today, others aren’t fully explored," Mozilla reps wrote. "We’re talking about it now because we want expertise from all over Mozilla – and from people who aren’t yet part of Mozilla -- to inform and build the project we’re outlining here." Interested parties are encouraged to jump on an open Back to Gecko thread.

So what kind of shot does this Mozilla mobile enterprise have, anyway? Well, over at eWeek, Don Reisinger ticks down 11 reasons why Boot to Gecko doesn't have the faintest hope of competing against its better entrenched rivals. Among them: We already have an open-source mobile OS, and it's called Android. Also, vendors, fearing the possibility of cannibalization, may not want to start gearing products towards yet another operating system.

Also, this: "If Mozilla wants to enjoy any semblance of success in today’s mobile market, the organization it will need to get going on delivering its operating system," Reisinger writes. "Android’s grip on the mobile space is tightening and with Nokia now working with Microsoft, the market is changing dramatically. If Mozilla takes too long to get its platform to smartphones and tablets, it could be cornered out of the market before it even gets started."

Yeah, that's a good one. Horizons readers will remember that back in June, Google announced that it was activating 500,000 Android phones a day, a boost from 300,000 last December. It would take some major league firepower – not to mention bucket loads of buzz – for any developer to catch up with those numbers. And it would take a minor miracle for a relatively small operation such as Mozilla.

Not caught up on the latest Mozilla news? Check out our report on Firefox 4, the Web browser that many analysts considered to be the best Mozilla product yet. (Upgrades included hardware-accelerated graphics, better crash protection, and much improved speed.) And in the meantime, sign up for our weekly newsletter, which is completely free. It ships out on Wednesdays.

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