Mozilla is hoping to do for the mobile phone industry what it did for browsers: offer more choice and a more open platform for developers.
The company launched its Firefox operating system (OS) for mobile at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and the company's CEO Gary Kovacs told CNBC that while Apple and Google's operating systems have paved the way for large-scale adoption, their closed ecosystems will quickly fall out of favor.
"In the next five years we're going to double the internet population to about four or five billion people," Kovacs told CNBC's Kelly Evans. "There's no way one or two, or even five companies, can satisfy the curiosities, the needs, the desires, the dreams of five billion unique individuals."
Mozilla Firefox OS is based on the open web. The company hopes to get content providers to launch HTML5-based apps that phone users can access via any browser. That's different from native apps that need to be built for specific operating systems such as Apple's iOS or Android.
Mozilla hopes to weaken the Apple-Android axis and entice a huge network of developers. There are a staggering eight million web developers, compared to hundreds of thousands of developers for the iOS and Android platforms.
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"We're providing a platform that all of those developers can now launch and create for, and that's what is going to give consumers the real difference that they're looking for," Kovacs said.
The company's success will depend on emerging markets, which provide an untapped source of potential smart phone users; the so-called "next billion".
According to Kovacs, what these people will want is online content from their local community, not from the wider world.