Mozilla has announced that its Firefox OS mobile operating system will be appearing on handsets in Brazil from early 2013, available through Telefónica’s commercial brand, Vivo. Firefox OS is based on Mozilla's existing Boot to Gecko technology and each app for the platform is to be constructed in HTML5, the markup language increasingly used for structuring online content such as media and web apps.
The non-profit open source web giant further revealed that Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor have all signed on as backers to the project and their support will be crucial to ensure Firefox OS gains significant usage worldwide, though as of yet there’s no official word when new phones will be offered for sale outside Brazil.
Thus far phone manufacturers TCL Communication Technology (under the Alcatel One Touch brand) and ZTE are both slated to produce hardware to run the fledgling mobile operating system, though excepting the inclusion of Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip, the specifications of the devices are still unclear. However, as Firefox OS is targeting the budget end of the smartphone market we can expect the final specs to be modest in comparison to the iPhone, for example.
“Firefox OS will bring a better smartphone experience to a higher proportion of the population at a lower cost. 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”, said Matthew Key, Chairman and CEO of Telefónica Digital.
Firefox OS faces an uphill struggle to gain traction in a market currently dominated by iOS and Android, though by setting its sights on inexpensive devices, Mozilla and partners will aim to appeal to the millions of users who wish for the functionality of a smartphone without the cost which such cutting-edge technology often commands.