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July 05, 2012

Mozilla Gets Ready to Launch Firefox OS for Mobile Devices

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

Are you a Firefox lover and wish you could take it with you? Soon, you'll be able to do so. Mozilla (News - Alert), the company behind the Firefox browser, revealed this week that its highly anticipated, HTML5-based open source mobile operating system is set to bear the familiar Firefox brand name. The release is intended to power the next-generation of smartphones and other mobile devices, particularly those in the lower-cost sector of the mobile device market.

“Due to the optimization of the platform for entry-level smartphones and the removal of unnecessary middleware layers, mobile operators will have the ability to offer richer experiences at a range of price points, including at the low end of the smartphone price range, helping to drive adoption across developing markets,” said Mozilla in a blog post, which noted that technical documentation has been submitted to W3C for standardization.

According to Mozilla, hundreds of millions of people worldwide use the company's Firefox browser “to discover, experience, and connect to the Web on computers, tablets and mobile phones” — a number of customers that it hopes to greatly expand, while serving even better. Now, it hopes those people will get their Firefox experience while on the road, and on the small screen.

Does it make sense to enter such a crowded and contentious market, what with Apple, Google's Android (which is also open-source) and Windows Phone (News - Alert) to compete against?

Digital Trends wonders  the same thing, and thinks that Firefox OS may gain success from the lower end of the market it intends to service, and its very simplicity.

“Firefox OS will have an appealing simplicity: It’s built on an open-source Linux kernel, with Firefox’s open-source Gecko Web rendering engine on top. That’s basically the whole thing. There are no complicated middleware layers and no proprietary technologies,” writes Digital Trends. “Firefox OS will be a pure Web experience every step of the way. Everything will be an HTML5 application, including the default Web browser, email app, social-networking clients, and games. Even the phone’s dialing capability will be built as an HTML5 app.”

Mozilla already has technology partners for its new open-source OS. Digital Trends is reporting that device makers TCL Communication Technology and China’s ZTE plan to manufacture Firefox OS devices based on Qualcomm’s (News - Alert) Snapdragon system-on-a-chip platform. It's also got carriers interested. Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates, Smart in the Philippines, Telecom Italia (News - Alert) in Italy, Telefónica in Brazil, and Telenor in Norway are all on board, and in the U.S., Firefox OS has support from number-three mobile operator Sprint (News - Alert).

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Edited by Jamie Epstein
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