Mozilla is gearing up to conquer the mobile space with their project Boot to Gecko (B2G) for smartphones. The goal is to create an open-sourced standard compliant mobile operating system, challenging iOS and Android.
Boot to Gecko uses HTML 5 and a by Mozilla developed API, most current mobile operating systems requires more complex languages such as C# or JAVA. Using HTML 5 in a mobile operating system is an interesting concept, it means that current web apps already using the technology should have an advantage as porting apps to mobile devices will be much easier than before. If Boot to Gecko becomes a success the web will increasingly become the platform of choice for everything, including mobile devices, rendering separate mobile operating systems useless.
Another interesting point with Boot to Gecko is that operators can now provide services across a range of devices instead of having to port all services to different mobile operating systems.
Mozilla have about 20 full-time engineers working on the project with a handful of volunteers supporting it. A lot of the code is re-used from the mobile version of Firefox.
When looking at the road map it is clear that the project will probably take until fall 2012 to materialize. When the project is done it will probably be an uphill battle to get the OS delivered with new phones, phone manufacturers will be reluctant, no doubt. Right now it is possible to run Boot to Gecko on some Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy SII, meaning that a phone does not have to have Boot to Gecko factory installed in order to use it.
The road map for the project also includes some features of the Boot to Gecko operating system, such as a by Mozilla hosted app-store, a e-book reader, a e-mail client and the Firefox browser.
Of course a project like Boot to Gecko might seem like it will never take off or even scratch iOS, Android or Windows Phone penetration, but the mobile space is in the same situation as browsers years ago, with two dominant players. For browsers Microsoft ruled the world with Internet Explorer, the release of Firefox changed all that, perhaps Boot to Gecko will do the same for mobile operating systems.
Demonstration of Boot to Gecko: