The Firefox has landed

The delivery range was listed as “August 21 - August 21.” It was August 24 when my new FirefoxOS phone arrived. The phone is inexpensive, and it is underpowered compared to high-end iPhones and Android devices. But it has a major advantage over both iPhones and Android phones: It’s not made by Apple or Google.

I am a phone Luddite. This is my first smart phone. I find Apple’s treatment of users and developers repellant, and I don’t want to carry an ad-lead-generator for Google around in my pocket. The alternative was nothing, since obviously a Windows phone is completely out of the question. I suppose there’s Blackberry, too. Didn’t care.

These phone-resisting tendencies were reinforced by Stallman’s comments on cell phones:

I don’t have a cell phone. I won’t carry a cell phone. It’s Stalin’s dream. Cell phones are tools of Big Brother. I’m not going to carry a tracking device that records where I go all the time, and I’m not going to carry a surveillance device that can be turned on to eavesdrop.

The quote is from Network World, March 16, 2011. At the time, Stallman was mocked as a crank (e.g., “Richard Stallman is kind of a lunatic. He’s been tinfoil hat for many years now,” from the same article). Recent revelations about the surveillance state have proven him right–it’s not paranoia when it turns out that you have understated the problem.

In any case, the Firefox phone has the advantage of being free software, as far as I know. That was enough for me. Firefox has been my browser of choice at home for years, even through the lean years; even when Chrome was pushing the boundaries of browser performance and capability. As Google slides more and more into the antithesis of its famous slogan, Mozilla is once again in the position of being the defender of open standards and user freedom on the Web. That’s worth supporting, even if it means an underpowered phone.

As Linus Torvalds put it:

Technologies that lock things down tend to lose in the end.

Don’t bet against the open Web.

Buzz de Cafe 25 August 2013