Mozilla on Monday announced that the first devices to feature its Firefox OS mobile platform will be manufactured by TCL Communication Technology (Alcatel) and ZTE. The mobile OS will also initially be supported by global network operators including Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, and Telenor.
"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," said Gary Kovacs, CEO, Mozilla. "The large number of operators and manufacturers now supporting this effort will bring additional resources and diversity to our global offerings."
As the name indicates, Mozilla has chosen "Firefox OS" as the official name of its HTML5-based mobile OS. Devices based on this full open mobile ecosystem will be built entirely to open Web standards, where all of the device's capabilities can be developed as HTML5 applications. As an example, Telefonica’s Digital unit teamed up with Mozilla earlier this year to showcase how calling, messaging, games and more are performed as HTML5 applications on mobile devices.
"The Firefox OS for mobile devices is built on Mozilla’s 'Boot to Gecko project' which unlocks many of the current limitations of web development on mobile, allowing HTML5 applications to access the underlying capabilities of a phone, previously only available to native applications," Mozilla said.
So what does this mean to the end-user? Mozilla expects this new platform to drive entry-level smartphones to the masses -- especially developing markets -- as manufacturers will be able to offer a "richer" experience for the low-end buck. Of course, the mobile OS will be ideal for mid-range and high-end devices as well, serving as a fierce competitor to Google's (also open-source) Android OS.
The big factor here, and this is just speculation, is that Firefox OS will be big with manufacturers and developers because fragmentation shouldn't be an issue. There will be some fragmentation to a degree, but not as seen with Android because the HTML5 framework should work on most smartphone hardware sets. That means developers will be able to crank out one app, and not have to worry about tweaking it for multiple OS versions and innumerable hardware platforms.
"Mozilla and all other participants are committed to ensuring the project is fully open and the reference implementation of the required Web APIs is being submitted to W3C for standardization," the company said.
Just recently Mozilla brought Firefox for Android out of beta, a move that seemingly signals the upcoming launch of Mozilla Marketplace, its HTML5-based app storefront. Prior to that, the company launched a closed preview of Mozilla Marketplace which allows customers to download and install HTML5-based apps directly into the Windows desktop like any other piece of software.
With these three factors lining into place, it looks as if Mozilla is gearing up to launch a full-scale attack on the Android and iOS platforms. So far the only thing missing is actual consumable multimedia -- maybe that will come in time as the platform grows.
The first Firefox OS devices will feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC and are expected to launch in Brazil in early 2013 via Telefónica's Vivo service, Mozilla said.