Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mobile: Firefox's Mess Regarding Security, Webapp Experience, And Android Compatibility

Source: Engadget.

Firefox OS is going the way of some other minor platforms like Blackberry by finding a way for FFOS devices to run Android apps.  It's a quick way to get out from behind the apps race to the front. It's also a way for users to experience FFOS' webapp experience with what more users are used to and comfortable with, which is the standalone apps.  Is this a good idea?

It's about survival and Firefox seems to think that this is the way to go in order to compete in the cut-throat mobile device market.  Not long ago when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, all he thought was necessary was just webapps.  But then a year later, that tune changed rather quickly and Apple introduced the App Store for iOS devices.

Let's get rid of the minuses before we move on to one very important plus.  Security quickly comes to mind.  Whatever patches and new updates Google comes up with, just how quickly will Firefox move to patch them.  For that matter, we don't really know how quickly other forced Android devices are quickly patched by their manufacturers, if at all.  For instance, do we even know if Amazon patches the Fire tablets as they should or they wait months to do that.  So, while this isn't an issue relating just to Firefox but it is a bit one.

And with updated versions of Android apps, how quickly can Firefox make sure that newer versions will work on its Android-compatible system?  And for that matter, how many Android apps will work out the door?

As for the webapp experience, I'm a firm believer that there is potential there.  Just like in using Google's Chrome OS, webapps continue to grow in quantity and improve in quality.  In the short-term, this is a minus as most users will demand app quality experience.  But as time progresses, webapp experiences will improve dramatically even on phones.

The issue is whether Firefox has time on its side.  It is not out of the realm of possibility that Firefox OS devices will proliferate if it gains a foothold but that is a long shot at this time.  However, we do want more competitors in the mobile space than not.  As mobile warriors, we should hope that Mozilla will find a way to flourish.  Android is a short-term solution that probably will not work and serves only to distract the "app versus webapp" argument and delay the day when webapp and app versions of the mobile experience reach parity.

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