Firefox OS And Blackberry 10

published on March 13, 2013 in technical

Today we had a small gathering organized by Telenor here in Budapest. The topic was mobile devices, operating systems and their security.

There were two mobile platforms that made me curious in the last few months. One of them was the new Blacberry platform, the 10. The other one was Firefox OS, from Mozilla. Before I put down my thoughts on both, let me tell you what I hoped for.

I used Blackberry devices for a while, when I was a developer at Sanoma Media Budapest. I really loved them. Those were the devices of the working guy, they were made for work. Fast typing, with a full QWERTY keyboard. At that time, I could not imagine any better device for work.

Firefox OS, untill now, was only reachable to me with the Firefox OS Simulator addon. I tried it a few times, tried the apps that were available, which at the beginning we not so many. That has changed a lot. Currently you get apps for most of the things an average user would do on a phone. Including Facebook (I even posted today to Facebook from the emulator).

I was really eager to see them, to try them. And today I had the opportunity. First, let me give you my really frank opinion on the Blackberry 10.

It is a greatly built device, it feels like quality, no strange plastic noises, no bad materials. It felt good in my hands. And even the white one looked well, not to mention the black.

On the other hand, the intuitive usage of the device is a non existing concept. What I saw at launch, was nothing else but a good story. Those gestures did not work, the feel of the UI was cheap and not good. I felt anxious to try it and when I did, I was very disappointed. On the outside the device is great, but the software is bad. It felt like a cheap Android phone. And the worst idea of all was building it without a home button.

Firefox OS, on the other hand, left a totally different mark. The UI of Firefox OS is really responsive, really simple, working actually perfectly. I compared the cheaper device with a cheap Android device that I previously used. It was much better, so much better. Intuitive, simple, nothing complex.

The stronger device, which also has a bigger screen, is actually a device I could use for my daily mobile activities. Same OS, a bit faster, just a little bit, and a bigger screen, but not the shovel-sized one that I really hate. Actually it was the right size.

Both felt good in my hand, not like the iPhone5, which I dislike for its strange grip and its too low weight.

The devices seam to be really cheap. The guy from Mozilla, I think he came from Mozilla, didn't ask him, told me that the smaller one will cost around 100 USD, the more expensive one around 140 USD. We all must admit that for a fully functional smartphone those prices are really low. The real market prices for these devices will probably be different, as everything is different here (read more expensive). 

I also tried the Porsche design Blackberry. It had a great housing, made of metal. Great feel, great weight. But really bad experience, unintuitive UI. That phone is made for putting it on a shelve, not for using it. I don't even understand the bussiness decision behind making a phone that expensive.

It was a good day, I met a few guys I knew from previous companies. What is my conclusion on this short experience? Firefox OS team did a great job, Blackberry screwed up big. The devices of the two companies are about the same level from a usage point of view, only Blackberry has years of mobile experience, Firefox OS isn't even officially released yet.

Decide for yourself who wins the game.