Mozilla has announced that it will be launching its fully open source smartphone OS in early 2013, and already has significant support from telcos and hardware vendors.
The new operating system, formerly part of the ‘boot to gecko’ project, will now be called Firefox OS. The first devices are due to launch in early 2013, starting in Brazil under Telefonica’s Vivo brand. The devices will feature non-specified Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, no further hardware details were revealed.
Mozilla’s new OS will run on devices built by Chinese smartphone maker ZTE and TCL Communications. TCL is best known as the company that bought out Alcatel’s mobile arm in 2004. Its devices will be branded under the Alcatel One Touch branding, for the first time since the takeover.
"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 Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs.
"The large number of operators and manufacturers now supporting this effort will bring additional resources and diversity to our global offerings."
Mozilla already has Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor backing the new platform, which will focus on the low end of the smartphone market.
"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 Telefonica Digital CEO Matthew Key.
Mozilla plans for the new OS to be a fully open source ecosystem with freely accessible source coude, built on open web standards and with all apps being developed under the HTML5 standard, developed as part of its ‘boot to gecko‘ project. Mozilla’s new API allows developers to "free mobile platforms from the encumbrances of the rules and restrictions of existing proprietary platforms."
Deutsche Telekom has been working with Mozilla development team, and contributing its own R&D resources said Chief Product and Innovation Officer Thomas Kiessling.
"We support Mozilla’s Firefox OS project since we really believe that it embodies openness, innovation, and competition, and it is part of a growing cloud and HTML5-based ecosystem. As a function of our commitment, our Innovation Laboratory’s Silicon Valley Center is working closely with Mozilla’s development team and e.g. is contributing NFC enabling software to Boot to Gecko Platform."
The introduction of a full open source mobile OS, alongside the Linux-Samsung-Intel developed Tizen OS, is a welcome free counterweight for telcos worldwide, concerned about their lack of power at the bargaining table in the face of the Samsung (through Google Android) and Apple iOS duopoly. Apple and Samsung now account for more than 55% of all smartphone sales and 90% of the profits.