Mozilla's Firefox OS to Bear Smartphone Fruit in 2013

Mozilla announced that its project to build a smartphone operating system (formerly known as "Boot to Gecko") based on Web standards is now known as Firefox OS for mobile devices and it will be on devices in 2013.

Mozilla said the Firefox phone is the real deal and should start hitting the scene in 2013.

Mozilla announced a clear and distinct increase in momentum behind its plans to launch an open mobile ecosystem based on HTML5, including new commitments from device manufacturers and carriers to support the strategy and deliver devices powered by an open Web-based OS.

Known initially as the €œBoot to Gecko€ project, the newly named Firefox OS for mobile devices 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 in a press release. Telefonica€™s Digital unit joined forces with Mozilla earlier this year to get involved in this effort and showcase a new phone architecture where every phone feature€”calling, messaging, games, etc.€”is an HTML5 application.

€œThe introduction of the open mobile OS continues the Mozilla mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web for users and developers,€ said Gary Kovacs, CEO of Mozilla, in a statement. €œAs 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. The large number of operators and manufacturers now supporting this effort will bring additional resources and diversity to our global offerings.€

The new operating system will power the launch of smartphones built entirely to open Web standards, where all of the device€™s capabilities can be developed as HTML5 applications, Mozilla said.

Indeed, leading operators such as Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Telenor are backing the open Firefox OS as an exciting new entrant to the smartphone marketplace. They have also identified the potential of the technology to deliver compelling smartphone experiences at attainable prices.

€œFirefox 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,€ said Matthew Key, chairman and CEO of Telefonica Digital, in a statement. €œThe 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.€

€œSprint continues to support an open mobile ecosystem that enables choice for Sprint customers and a healthy competitive ecosystem for the technical community,€ said Fared Adib, product chief at Sprint, in a statement. €œFirefox Mobile OS can help us drive an HTML 5-based platform for creating lower-cost smartphone options for prepaid, postpaid and wholesale customers.€

Meanwhile, device manufacturers TCL Communication Technology€”under the Alcatel One Touch brand€”and ZTE today announced their intentions to manufacture the first devices to feature the new Firefox OS, using Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. The first Firefox OS-powered devices are expected to launch commercially in Brazil in early 2013 through Telefonica€™s commercial brand, Vivo.

The Firefox OS will be optimized for entry-level smartphones, meaning that unnecessary middleware will be removed. Thus mobile operators will be able 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.

€œDeutsche Telekom€™s objective is to provide our customers a choice from a variety of attractive, and best of breed, products and services€”from DT as well as from our partners,€ Thomas Kiessling, chief product and innovation officer at Deutsche Telekom, said in a statement. €œPartnering is key for Deutsche Telekom and our cooperation with Mozilla is one important initiative for us. 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- [near-field communication-] enabling software to the Boot to Gecko Platform.€

Cesare Sironi, head of innovation and industry relations at Telecom Italia, said, €œMobile operating systems natively based on HTML5 will lower the barriers to provide our customers with performing and innovative mobile applications and services. Open Web technologies are the key for the development of a sustainable and valuable application ecosystem.€

Kristin Skogen Lund, CEO of Telenor Digital Services, said, €œWe are pleased to be part of the coalition supporting the launch of the new open mobile ecosystem. This will enable free and open service distribution to our customers, in addition to providing attractive smartphones at attainable prices, which is especially important for the adoption in emerging markets.€

And, also in a statement, Essa Al Haddad, chief commercial officer at Etisalat Group, said: €œEtisalat aims to enrich the user experience and improve the life of its customers by providing enhanced services across a complete portfolio of devices and operating systems. Firefox OS will provide an open-source platform to our customers and various ecosystem players, such as application developers, to experience innovative services. Thanks to this strategic initiative, the industry will benefit from a sustained growth in mobile data and the development of cutting-edge applications, as well as the promise of affordable smartphone devices that provide an enriched customer experience.€

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 the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for standardization.