Mozilla announces handsets for Firefox OS

Alcatel, LG and ZTE will be the first mobile manufacturers to bring Firefox OS handsets to the market

Open source internet organisation Mozilla today unveiled some of the first handsets that will house its Firefox mobile operating system – Firefox OS.

Mozilla, which pioneered open standards on the internet, first announced it was working on a mobile OS at last year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC)  and chose the same trade show a year later to unveil its hardware partners.

LG, ZTE and Alcatel will be the first to market with mobiles which Mozilla said would launch in the summer of 2013. Huawei will be the fourth partner to get onboard but the device will not hit the shelves until later in the year.

The key to the mobile OS is the fact it is built on HTML5. This means rather than being a system where developers need to adhere to rules to ensure their applications work on specific handsets and fit into app stores, it uses the HTML5 open standard used on the web and could technically work on any device, rather than closing it off to a certain brand.

“There is no new ecosystem,” said Gary Kovacs, CEO at Mozilla. “If you are building for a web browser on a mobile device, you are building for Firefox OS, you just don’t know it yet.”

Firefox OS will bring mid to high smartphone functions for mid to high feature phone prices

Gary Kovacs, Mozilla

It is not just about giving more opportunities to developers though, as Mozilla believes it will give better web capabilities to citizens in emerging markets where the likes of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S III are out of reach.

“The web should be at the centre of everything mobile as it levels the playing field,” Kovacs added. “It is about not just having one or two app models. This instead satisfies users everywhere… and we hope the tremendous explosion when the web adopted open standards can [happen] in mobile.”

“Firefox OS will bring mid to high smartphone functions for mid to high feature phone prices.”

Developers already have devices to test out and large companies like Facebook, Twitter and Box have already created versions of their services ready for launch.

The first regions to get devices were announced as Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.

Computer Weekly is on the ground at MWC so will bring you previews of the devices later this week.

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