Mozilla has been hard at work developing its Firefox OS for mobile devices for some time now, and with the smartphone market already quite saturated, it will have to make a strong case for its existence if it’s to succeed.

Now, it looks like app discovery may be part of that case, as today the Firefox OS team revealed a new prototype for Firefox Marketplace that adds a noticeable social element to the traditional app-buying experience.

In a lengthy post on the Mozilla UX blog, Firefox Marketplace designer Liu Liu explains how he and his colleagues sought to emulate the ‘feed’ features of social networks to keep users informed about app updates and new apps that might be of interest. The team has also incorporated a ‘heart’ feature (which resembles Facebook’s ‘Like’ or Twitter’s ‘Follow’), created community hubs, added pictures of specific app creators, and highlighted certain statistics like download numbers – all to enhance the sense of community.

These might seem like unnecessary features, but given the ongoing fuss about app stores’ inability to help users find the content they want, Mozilla might have hit a sweet spot with this experiment. Check out the video below and see for yourself:

Firefox OS saw its first commercial launch in Spain last July, followed by releases in Latin America and then the US and UK via eBay. Mozilla is developing its operating system entirely in HTML5 and is aiming to make an impact in the low-end and mid-end markets.

➤ Firefox Marketplace in the Future: Customized App Store Experience [Mozilla UX Blog]