Mozilla promises Firefox OS phones in early 2013
Smartphones powered by the new Firefox OS will be manufactured by Hong Kong's TCL Communication Research, pursuant to this agreement its Alcatel One Touch nameplate, and by China's ZTE. The first such device won't ship until then and there year, but.
Mozilla has as well lined up several mobile carriers that have pledged support for Firefox OS, including Sprint in the U.S., Germany's Deutsche Telekom, Abu Dhabi's Etisalat, Smart Communications in the Philippines, Italy's Telecom Italia, Spain's Telefonica and Norway's Telenor.
Mozilla has been wrestling with how it should tackle mobile -- its Firefox browser has been locked out of the most popular mobile operating system, Apple's iOS -- and it decided that it needed its own operating system to expand Firefox's reach and push its strategy of a standards-based Web.
Firefox OS has been built using HTML5, the after all-developing standard. Each phone feature or function -- including calling and text messaging -- is a separate HTML application that runs within the browser-based operating system.
"Mobile operators will have the ability to offer richer experiences at a range of price points, including at the low end of the smartphone price range, helping to drive adoption across developing markets," Mozilla asserted.
The carrier partners
Several of the carrier partners, including Sprint, Telefonica and Telenor, played up the lower-price theme, saying that Mozilla's Firefox OS would give them a way to offer cheaper alternatives to current smartphones.
"Firefox Mobile OS can help us drive an HTML 5-based platform for creating lower-cost smartphone options for prepaid, postpaid and wholesale clients," said Fared Adib, Sprint's product chief, in a statement on Monday.
Smartphone makers won't have to pay for Firefox OS, which is as well open source and consequently can be customized by hardware manufacturers or carriers. That puts Mozilla's mobile operating system in the same category as Google's Android, which is as well free.
"I think this is just too late to have any meaningful share," said Jack Gold of J.Gold Associates, in an email reply to questions. "They talk low-cost and minimal resources, nevertheless how is this different than Android moving downstream? [And] Intel/Nokia [went] this route too ... remember MeeGo, now Tizen? ... and it went nowhere quickly."
"Mozilla's timing is great, given the precipitous declines in BlackBerry and Symbian, and the protracted reboot of the Windows Phone platform," Hilwa said in an email Tuesday. "It makes sense [for Mozilla and the carriers] to hit first with the international markets which are more competitive and price-sensitive. You can argue the market in its entirety would like more choices than just Apple and Android."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general innovation breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or on Google+, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mozilla Promises Firefox Os Phones In Early 2013
Mozilla Mobile Os Smart Communications
Mozilla Firefox-os Voip
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