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FireDroidFox?

These smartphone wars are a funny old business. On paper, it's all very simple. Apple represents 'closed': its software, iOS, only runs on Apple-made hardware, and the only apps that run on iOS are the ones approved by Apple for its App Store. Google's Android, by contrast, is 'open' - it's open-source, any manufacturer can use it, and you can install whatever programs you like.

That's the theory. But in practice, Android isn't really as open as it seems. Google has gradually ramped up the restrictions on hardware makers who want to use the software, choosing favourites to launch new versions with, and generally toughening up to try to give users a more consistent experience. It's also proven willing to ape Apple and remove apps from the Android Market on occasion.

So what's left for the true openness advocate? Well, who represents open-source in the browser wars? Mozilla, makers of Firefox. So who better to produce a rival to Android that's truly open than Mozilla themsleves.

And apparently, that's what they're going to do. With their oddly-named new project 'Boot To Gecko', they're producing an open-source mobile OS that could one day rival Android.

Is this a good idea? Gary Marshall, of UK tech site TechRadar, isn't sure. He argues:

'What worries me is that Mozilla's solution won't work. It's a tough one to call, because so far Boot to Gecko is a topic for discussion rather than a defined plan, but it looks like there are two main possibilities here: an alternative OS that Android users have to seek out, install and then boot into when they want to use its apps, or a whole new mobile OS.

If it's the former, it's not going to give Google anything to worry about. And if it's the latter, I fear Mozilla is trying to punch above its weight. A rival operating system is whole different ball game, desktop Linux versus Windows rather than Firefox versus Internet Explorer, and it's one where I fear Mozilla isn't big enough or strong enough to compete.'

To be honest, it's too soon to have a clue what Boot to Gecko will turn into, let alone if it'll succeed. But don't let that stop you from speculating in the comments.

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