Is there room for another mobile platform? Mozilla sure thinks so. Restrictions imposed by the walled garden approach used by Microsoft and Apple have kept Firefox’s mobile presence limited to Android devices. Mozilla’s response: developing Boot to Gecko, a mobile operating system based on open Web standards and HTML5.
The project is coming along swimmingly, and today, Mozilla issued a couple of key announcements. First, the operating system’s name has officially been switched to Firefox OS, a much more user-friendly and recognizable title. More importantly, several mobile carriers and device manufacturers have pledged support for the fledgling Firefox OS.
In a press release published on its blog, Mozilla said that ZTE and TCL Communication Technology — the company behind Alcatel-branded phones — will be the first two manufacturers to create Firefox OS-focused hardware, which will be based around Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.
Telefónica was the first company to jump on the Boot to Gecko bandwagon several months back, and it will be the first service to carry a Firefox OS phone, which is scheduled to land in Brazil sometime in early 2013. That’s a bit behind the original schedule; Mozilla had previously expected the first Boot to Gecko phones to launch later this year.
A few other notable partners have hitched a wagon to Firefox OS, including Sprint and Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s parent company. Etisalat, Smart, Telecom Italia and Telenor have also come on board.
Mozilla has optimized the Firefox OS for entry-level phones. Cracking into the smartphone market won’t be easy; widespread adoption will be key for Firefox OS. The low cost barrier should help, as should the Open Web flexibility of the HTML5 apps created for Firefox OS. Mozilla says that the HTML5-based apps created for Firefox OS will be easily updated by OEMs and carriers, even if the apps are used on phones running Android, while users will be able to transfer content between phones using the HTML5-based apps just as easily.
We spent some time with Boot to Gecko earlier this year and came away fairly impressed; hit the third link below for pictures, video and our thoughts on the HTML5-focused operating system.