Over the last month at the Mobile World Congress 2012, Mozilla showcased their blood, sweat, tears product for the last year to the world – a truly free mobile operating system. (Sadly) named Boot to Gecko or B2G, the OS combines the power of HTML5 and linux (android) to provide a fast, extremely flexible HTML-driven interface for mobile phones. On top of a base linux kernel + drivers layer, all of the UI is written in HTML and javascript. The launcher, dialer, contacts, browser, everything is HTML-driven. Mozilla put in a ton of work to fuse the HTML bits with the hardware, also opening up the API in the process to eventually become a standard. The apps for b2g (please change the name!) are going to be primarily hosted and managed from the up and coming Apps Marketplace. The Marketplace would provide apps for both desktop and mobile versions of Firefox and b2g. As with all of Mozilla’s services, the Marketplace itself is open and you could host your own instance of it.

B2G Messages app B2G Contacts app

The intent and purpose of the OS is not to compete against the likes of iOS or Android or WP. The mobile space is dominated by feature phones, iOS, Android and to some extent WP. Each of them have their own ecosystem via which they control the experience for end-users. I’ve written before about closed gardens and how it isn’t beneficial to an open market. This is akin to car manufacturers using custom screws to disallow so-called unauthorised access. Such a culture always hurts consumers the most. It locks down data and all the companies know that data is quintessential to holding a consumer. It is against the interest of the large corporations to free the consumer and allow for choice. This sounds fairly autocratic. The corporations promise a good experience at the cost of freedom. To many, that is unacceptable. Mozilla has historically sided with users when freedom is at siege. In the early years of the century, Firefox liberated millions from the crutches of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Now, a decade later, Mozilla sees the mobile space turning into a similar lockdown scenario. B2G and the Marketplace is pivotal to the goals of a free, open Mobile ecosystem. One that binds all, across platforms and empowers the user. That is the power of HTML and it is only in the consumers best interest that such a project can succeed.