Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms have a stranglehold on the global smartphone market that doesn’t appear to be slipping anytime soon. But as a bloody battle rages for the No.3 and No.4 positions in the smartphone race, a new contender with a very different strategy has now hit the market: Firefox OS. Beginning immediately, the first two Firefox-powered smartphones are available to developers and the general public. Or, they were available — it’s hard to say if consumers at large have had their interest piqued by Firefox OS, but both the Keon ($119) and Peak ($194) were sold out on Tuesday morning shortly after becoming available so developers are certainly intrigued. We don’t know how many units were stocked with this first round of shipments, but Mozilla’s new open source mobile OS seems to be off to a good start.
Speaking at AllThingsD’s Dive Into Mobile conference on Monday, Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs announced that the first Firefox OS smartphones will launch around June, Business Insider reported. The executive revealed that initial availability will be limited to emerging markets including Venezuela, Poland, Brazil, Portugal and Spain. The HTML5-based operating system will also be making its way to the United States, as Sprint has previously confirmed that it plans to launch a Firefox OS smartphone sometime next year. Kovacs noted that the delay is due to the company’s plan to build a desirable ecosystem before launching in the highly competitive U.S. market.
Fragmentation is one of those unpleasant topics that no one likes to discuss. That is, unless you are the CEO of Mozilla. Gary Kovacs, the chief executive of Mozilla, took aim at Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and everyone else in the mobile industry during a keynote at Mobile World Congress this week in Spain. The executive believes that the mobile industry has become too consolidated and consumers should have more options available to them. More →
One of the few points of interest that emerged from a phablet-filled Mobile World Conference this year is the first round of phones powered by the new Firefox OS. Mozilla’s new HTML5-based mobile platform is open and available to vendors for free, and it could make a serious dent in emerging markets. But a stumbling block emerges as Samsung (005930), the world’s top cell phone maker by shipment volume, has reportedly stated that it has no interest in adopting the OS for its handsets, CNET reports. This makes sense since Samsung’s Android bet has already been hedged, but it could be a serious roadblock for Mozilla as Samsung continues to put its massive weight behind a push into emerging markets.
Another day, another Firefox OS-powered handset here at Mobile World Congress. We had the chance to take a hands-on look at Alcatel’s first Firefox phone on Tuesday and walked away with some distinctly tepid impressions. As a disclaimer, the software we played with was in beta, but Firefox and Alcatel are planning to launch these phones within months, so any performance enhancements they hope to achieve will have to be pushed out relatively quickly. More →
The new ZTE (0763) Open is perhaps more significant for what it’s not than what it is. The handset does not run Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry 10 or Tizen. In a world dominated by just a few established major players, the introduction of Firefox’s new mobile OS, alongside handsets such as the Open, is pretty big news. Banking on the untapped demand in emerging markets yet to see the explosion of smartphone growth that has swept the rest of the planet, Firefox and ZTE are hoping to make headway with their own unique offering. More →
ZTE (0763) has big plans for 2013. The Chinese manufacturer has previously focused on low-end feature phones and smartphones, however in a move similar to rival Huawei(002502), ZTE is looking to attack the high-end market with a variety of devices. The company recently announced the Grand S smartphone, which is equipped with a 1080p full HD display and quad-core processor, and is scheduled to debut even more devices at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. More →
Mozilla on Tuesday announced a new partnership with GeeksPhone to produce a pair of developer devices running the HTML5-based Firefox OS. Both are low-end smartphones that fall in line with the company’s plans to attack emerging and prepaid markets. The Keon is equipped with a 3.5-inch HVGA display, 1GHz single-core Snapdragon S1 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, a micro SD slot and a 3-megapixel rear camera. The Peak has slightly better specs, although it will still be considered a low-end device by today’s standards. The smartphone features a 4.3-inch qHD display, a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage and an 8-megapixel rear camera. Pricing information was not disclosed, however Mozilla said the first developer devices are expected to launch in February.
Add ZTE (0763) to the list of manufacturers trying to decrease their dependence on Android by diversifying their mobile portfolios. The company’s executive vice president He Shiyou told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that ZTE will launch smartphones with Mozilla’s Firefox OS in the first quarter of 2013, while also confirming that ZTE is planning new Windows Phone 8 smartphones to go on sale later this year. Mozilla revealed plans for its own HTML5-based mobile platform earlier this year and said that initial hardware partners will include ZTE, TCL and Qualcomm (QCOM). More →
Mozilla on Monday revealed that its Boot to Gecko mobile platform has been rebranded as Firefox OS. The HTML5-based OS will power smartphones built to open Web standards. “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 Gary Kovacs, CEO, Mozilla. “The large number of operators and manufacturers now supporting this effort will bring additional resources and diversity to our global offerings.” The company has partnered with Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Telenor to support the operating system, with the first devices set to be released early next year. The initial Firefox OS hardware will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset and will be produced by ZTE and TCL. Mozilla’s press release follows below. More →