Simple Products

Simplicity – In a Smartphone?

For some time now, I have been tracking Mozilla’s forthcoming smartphone, a device known as “Firefox OS.” To my surprise, the internet world has responded with unwavering criticism and confusion, pulling consumers back toward mainstream devices. “It’s already a competitive market,” they say, and “it does nothing an outdated iPhone doesn’t.” Perhaps these critics are missing the very thing Firefox OS provides – a renewed perspective.

Don't judge too quickly. This simple phone aims to leave a lasting impact. Photo courtesy of

Don’t judge too quickly; this simple phone has unexpected plans. Photo courtesy of

So what exactly is Firefox OS? Well, it’s actually quite straightforward – it fulfills Mozilla’s dream of “building a better internet” by “keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands.” More simply, it allows Mozilla to provide an easy-to-use phone for the “second wave” of smartphone users–those who are not currently locked into an iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry device. Sounds like a mediocre target market, right? Not entirely. Mozilla is aiming Firefox OS at emerging markets in countries such as Brazil, Portugal and Venezuela, again hoping to put the web in the hands of all people.

Like any imminent piece of technology, however, Firefox OS offers bouts of technical details. I’ll send you over to the Mozilla Blog for those – I like to focus on simplicity here. So, what do you need to know about this device? And why is it relevant? It all returns to Mozilla’s mission. If carried out effectively, Firefox OS will reach much of the developing world, breaking into a market that other major players failed to consider. In fact, Many analysts believe the U.S. market will be one of the last to adopt the phone, a testament to the device’s commitment to building a better internet.

Confused? Uninterested? Walk away with this: Firefox OS will provide developing nations with a cost-efficient, fully capable smartphone, offering wireless internet access where it did not previously exist. The selfless plan just may catch on: the first versions of the device went on sale yesterday, selling out within the first few hours of release. Perhaps the American consumers just don’t quite get it. To solve the problem, Firefox OS provides the perfect fix – a renewed perspective.

Convinced this plan will fail? Love Mozilla for all they do? Keep the conversation going by commenting to the left.

The Trash Tragedy

What about Waste Land?

The background: For 34 years, a seaside mountain of waste and filth marred the image of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, causing environmentalists to chastise the country for its “environmental sins.” The landfill—called Jardim Gramacho—accepted 9,000 tons of trash per day, spanning 321 acres of land and growing to heights of 50 meters. Each morning, over 1,700 men and women traveled to the landfill to gather recyclable materials, collecting bottles and containers to be sorted, sold and traded. These individuals—known as the Association of Collectors of the Metropolitan Landfill of Jardim Gramacho—had stories to tell. In 2010, Brazilian-born visual artist Vik Muniz made their stories public, releasing the influential documentary “Waste Land” to a worldwide audience.

Although Waste Land first hit the market in late 2010, it took me until recently to watch the film through. And let me tell you–I’m glad I did. As the beginnings of the film unfolded, with Muniz sharing his passions for modern art and for his birth country of Brazil, I found myself expecting another “rich American saves the poor locals” story. I found something entirely different.

Through the lens of art, Muniz supports a community in search of a sustainable life. They have needs and ambitions just like everyone else, though they resort to trash picking to support their number one priority – their families. And so, through practical charity, Muniz sets out to humbly empower “the pickers,” teaching unity through art. This is where “Waste Land” separates itself–by articulating the need to provide sustainable aid, not just momentary relief.

As agents of change, this is our greatest asset. Not in traveling overseas with free shoes, building materials or personal agendas, but with an ambition to generate lasting change. Muniz is a teacher; he instills hope and community within the people of Jardim Gramacho, qualities that will last–and have lasted–long beyond Muniz’s journey back to southern Brazil.

Have you seen Waste Land? What message did the film leave you with?