Will Firefox OS be a game changer for digital marketers?

  • 4-Sep-2014

Handset manufacturers have started launching phones based on Firefox OS, targeting customers in developing countries. The devices have modest hardware requirements (e.g., 128 MB RAM) and provide touchscreen-based, smartphone-type capabilities at fraction of the smartphone price.

Huge New Customer Base?

Okay, not quite a smartphone-killer, but still very good for $35. You get a camera, there's wifi, and you can access the web and most common services such as Facebook and Whatsapp. Most importantly, these phones target the large swath of humanity that remains offline today.

If you are a digital marketer -- particularly in the B2C realm -- you can potentially reach untold millions of new online customers.

That said, you need to keep some limitations in mind.  For example, most of these customers will be new to touchscreen phones. For most of them, this will be their first brush with the web and their only online device (i.e., no access to a desktop). Also, English may not be the best language to reach them.

Tweak Your Mobile Strategy

To deliver your content and services to these new customers, you may want to reconsider or at least tweak your mobile strategy.

Fortunately, unlike Android and iOS, you don't have to worry about learning a new API and development tooling. Firefox OS-based phones run HTML5 apps. So while customers can download apps from Firefox Marketplace (just as they would for iOS and Android apps) the apps themselves are nothing but HTML5 pages running inside a headless browser.

Web and Apps, Again

Mobile web versus native apps is one of the most hotly debated issues in B2C mobile marketing today. However, the emergence of newer operating systems such as Firefox makes this debate increasingly moot. It's not about one versus the other, but rather about using multiple approaches.

For many customers, especially in content-rich scenarios, what works is a mobile web app along with device-specific apps for certain use cases. If you have invested in a standards-based mobile development approach using HTML5 and web technologies, you will be able to address any new operating systems comparatively faster.

We cover different mobile development alternatives as well as how different tools support those approaches in our Enterprise Mobile Technology evaluation research.

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