Mozilla Firefox Mobile OS unveiled

HTML5-based platform aims to take on Android, iOS

3 Jul 2012
Mozilla Firefox Mobile OS

Mozilla, the non-profit foundation behind the popular open-source Firefox web browser, has announced its intention to get into the mobile platform market with the planned launch of Firefox Mobile OS.

Designed as an alternative to Windows Phone or Google's Android, Firefox Mobile OS - previously announced under its development codename Boot To Gecko - is built on an infrastructure based on the HTML5 web standard. As a result, devices based on Firefox Mobile OS will be uniquely accessible to developers in a way most smartphone platforms are not.

ZTE and TCL - using its Alcatel One Touch brand - have both confirmed that they will be developing hardware designed around the new mobile platform and featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM-based processor.

"The introduction of the open mobile OS continues the Mozilla mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web for users and developers. As billions of users are expected to come online for the first time in the coming years, it is important to deliver a compelling smartphone experience that anyone can use," claimed Gary Kovacs, chief executive of Mozilla, at the announcement. "The large number of operators and manufacturers now supporting this effort will bring additional resources and diversity to our global offerings."

The platform will have an uphill battle to gain market share, however. Microsoft's Windows Phone platform is still struggling to make an impact against market leaders Google and Apple, despite some impressive features and the backing of a multi-billion dollar company. Despite this, Mozilla's mobile operator partners are confident in the project's success.

"Firefox OS will bring a better smartphone experience to a higher proportion of the population at a lower cost," claimed Matthew Key, chair and chief executive of Telefónica Digital. "This is crucial for us to accelerate the adoption of smartphones in developing markets. The breadth of support for this initiative across the industry makes it clear that there is an opportunity in the market for a new, open mobile ecosystem."

The first devices based on the new platform are expected to appear in Brazil in 2013 under Telefónica's Vivo brand. Thus far, Mozilla has not offered a launch date for other countries.

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