Is Apple’s Closed System Under Threat?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) prides itself on its closed operating system and ecosystem, and several analysts believe those are the company’s biggest strengths. But Apple’s grip on the smartphone software world will soon be questioned by Mozilla, which is taking an open route that builds on the style of Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android with its new mobile OS.

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Mozilla, which also created the Firefox Internet browser, will launch a new Firefox operating system for mobile devices this July. The company has won the support of as many as 13 wireless carriers across the world, including Spain’s Telefonica (NYSE:TEF), China Unicom (NYSE:CHU), and America Movil (NYSE:AMX), Reuters said. Among the hardware brands that have signed on to make devices based on Firefox OS are LGZTE, and Huawei.

“We are changing the industry for the better of everyone,” Telefonica chief executive Cesar Alienta said, adding that “closed operating systems” such as Apple’s were ensuring that the smartphone world was “moving backwards.”

Firefox OS uses the HTML5 standard, different from the proprietary technology of Apple and even Google, making it easy with anyone familiar with web programming to create apps. That means third-party developers will be free to sell mobile apps without needing to share revenue. Devices that run the software will also need much lower hardware requirements, Mozilla said. At the moment, the smartphone OS industry was “unnaturally controlled by a few parties,” said Mozilla’s chief executive, Gary Kovacs.

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The competition is strong. Android had about 70 percent share of the worldwide smartphone market in the fourth quarter, according to Gartner data, while Apple accounted for 21 percent.

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