Firefox OS doesn’t reach the user by itself
One important difference that we’ve had to adapt to to develop Firefox OS is that before it reaches the user, an operating system needs to integrate with other parts, created by other organizations. Unlike the browser, the operating system is not something that we give to users by itself. It is only one layer that goes into a mobile phone and it is important that it connects and collaborates with the other parts that make up a phone experience.
That meant that when we thought about the features and functions that we would like to build in a device there were a lot that we had not a lot of influence over, because we were not creating them. Before we could start thinking about where Firefox OS could excel at, we needed to separate its function within a phone and the mobile ecosystem from that of the other players. In other words, we needed to know what is the job to be done of Firefox OS.
There are 5 layers in the mobile ecosystem
To do this we started breaking down the elements of the mobile ecosystem and define what are the different parts that interact with each other, what is their function and what type of organizations are producing them.
To do this, we looked at what are the steps that content needs to go through from when it’s created by the developer to when it is consumed by the user. A day in the life of content:
- Information is created and stored on servers by developers in form of content.
- The bytes need to be transported to their destination, a job assigned to the network equipment providers.
- As a copy of the information leaves the server, it needs to know to which destination to go. It is important that the content is returned to the person who actually asked for it, not to a random one or to the whole network. This job is done by the network operator, by means of the IP address, whose key role is that of authentication for the ecosystem.
- Once it has reached the user, the information still needs to be processed on to a screen by a device, which is made by hardware manufacturers.
- After it is stored on the hardware, the information is organized and consumed by the user through the means of the a user agent, which is the operating system. This is where Firefox OS comes in.
Firefox OS is the interface and the data manager for the user
A user agent is the protective layer between the user and the rest of the ecosystem. It needs to represent the intentions and actions of the end – consumer to the rest of the layers that make up a phone, it needs to translate what is happening at the byte level to the user and in the same time protect against unauthorized access to other data stored on the device.
The job to be done of Firefox OS is not one, but several:
- it is the interface for the user to the entire mobile ecosystem
- it represents the user when she wants to interact with the other layers of the phone
- it organizes the user’s data
- it surfaces the signals sent by the other parts of the phone
- it protects the user’s data from unauthorized access