Ubuntu, Firefox and Jolla execs blast iOS, Android dominance

Smartphone OS vendors argue that more choice is needed
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BARCELONA, Spain--The chief executives from Ubuntu, Firefox and Jolla argued that the wireless industry is desperately in need of additional smartphone choices, and that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung's dominance of the market needs to be broken.

Jolla's Marc Dillon, Mozilla's Mitchell Baker and Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth

From left to right: Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth, Mozilla's Mitchell Baker and Jolla's Marc Dillon.

Jolla's Marc Dillon, Mozilla's Mitchell Baker and Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth took the keynote stage here at the Mobile World Congress trade show to both push their own offerings and argue against the two leading smartphone platforms, iOS and Android.

Baker said that Mozilla, which is selling the Firefox OS, will benefit from its HTML5-only approach. Mozilla yesterday announced that 17 carriers will support its Firefox platform, including América Móvil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa's Three Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint Nextel, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom. Handset vendors building Firefox phones include ZTE, LG, Huawei, TCL's Alcatel and Sony Mobile Communications. The first Firefox phones are scheduled to be released this summer.

Baker explained that Firefox will run on Web standards like HTML5, which she said will create more opportunities for innovation than currently available on iOS and Android.

Dillon said that Jolla will also support HTML5 but he said that HTML5 can't support all of the applications that developers want to create. Indeed, major developers like Glu Mobile (NASDAQ:GLUU) have said that they cannot build high-quality, complex games using HTML5 because the technology cannot yet support such complex applications. Dillon said Jolla supports development platforms including MeeGo and Qt, which he said will allow developers to easily create applications for the platform.

Jolla was founded by former Nokia executives who hope to sell phones running the MeeGo operating system that Nokia abandoned when it decided to switch to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform for its smartphone business. Jolla plans to build and sell its own Sailfish OS phones sometime this year.

Meantime, Ubuntu founder Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu runs on Linux and is therefore simple and easy to develop for. Ubuntu expects phones running its operating system to be released sometime later this year. The company has not yet announced which smartphone vendors will build phones using its Ubuntu operating system.

Baker, Dillon and Shuttleworth said that Apple and Samsung currently dominate the smartphone industry and have left little room for others to play. Indeed, analysts have noted that Apple and Android vendor Samsung collected virtually all of the market's profits during the fourth quarter. The executives said that Apple and Google's tight control over their respective smartphone platforms leaves little room for others to innovate.

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