Mozilla has teamed up with Chinese manufacturer Spreadtrum to try to create a $25 smartphone that runs Firefox OS. They aim to make a phone that will feature the Cortex A5-based SC6821 chipset, which was developed by Spreadtrum and supports WCDMA and EDGE networks. Noticeably absent is support for 4G LTE and the device’s screen will also be a few generations behind today’s high-end smartphones, with only 3.5-inch HVGA displays. Of course, these compromises are necessary if you’re trying to make a $25 smartphone, and Mozilla isn’t aiming for wealthy customers. Instead, it is hoping a cheap smartphone will sell well in developing countries and help spread access to the Web. More →
Samsung announced earlier this month that the Tizen Association had gained 36 powerful friends in the tech industry, but its latest partner might be the most valuable addition yet. According to a report at ZDNet Korea, Samsung’s Chief Secretary Wonsuk Lee revealed that the company will be working closely with Mozilla to foster a relationship between Tizen OS and Firefox OS. Speaking at an HTML5 conference, Lee said that both Tizen and Firefox support HTML5 development, so any apps created for one OS could be made available on the other. Although Samsung has still yet to announce a date for the first Tizen phone, Lee did say that Tizen should launch in the first half of 2014.
Mozilla has developed a Firefox add-on called Lightbeam that could change the way you look at your daily Internet activity. Mozilla says that Lightbeam “enables you to examine individual third parties over time and space, identify where they connect to your online activity and provides ways for you to engage with this unique view of the Web.” As you browse, your activity is constantly being monitored by third parties on the websites you visit, often without any signs or warnings whatsoever. More →
In order for Mozilla to stand a chance in the competitive mobile marketplace, differentiation is vital. Samsung turned down the Firefox OS earlier this year, but Mozilla is showing signs of life once again with a demonstration of the customizable Firefox Marketplace posted on Wednesday. The Firefox OS app store is designed around a concept called “the feed,” which allows user to customize which apps appear on the front page by liking individual apps, groups of apps, or an entire page of search results by tapping on a heart. As a result, the app store learns your preferences and over time, the apps you see will start to be more in line with your preferences. More →
Expectations for Firefox OS smartphones have been decidedly low, especially since the new platform is entering an extremely crowded market that already includes iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. But The Telegraph reports that ZTE’s budget Firefox Open phone has done surprisingly well so far, as the Chinese company said that it has already sold out of its initial stock of devices on both its United States and United Kingdom eBay pages. The secret to selling the devices, it seems, is to offer them at ridiculously low prices: The Telegraph says that the Open is selling for just $80 off-contract in the U.S. So while Firefox devices certainly won’t appeal to high-end users who love the iPhone 5 or the Galaxy S4, they may yet find a market for people who want a very basic dirt-cheap smartphone.
Anyone looking to search the web without being tracked by advertisers will soon be able to use Mozilla’s Firefox browser without worries. The Washington Post reports that Mozilla is moving ahead with plans to implement a “Do Not Track” system that will let users opt out of the most common types of tracking that advertisers use. Advertisers are predictably unhappy with Mozilla’s decision, of course, but the Post says that Mozilla executives are confident about “the growing sophistication of tools they are building to limit the placement of cookies in users’ browsers” such as their plan to “add limits on cookies placed by sites users intentionally visit, such as Facebook, to prevent tracking when users sign off and go to other sites.” Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich said that the organization’s efforts to carry out a strong Do Not Track policy were the best way “to change the dynamic so that trackers behave better.”
Mozilla is out to show that it wasn’t just blowing smoke when it said it wanted to bring console-quality games directly to your web browser. Per Engadget, Mozilla has posted a demonstration video of Android game Epic Citadel that’s been ported over to Firefox using the Unreal Engine 3. While the video is just a straight scenic walk-through with no combat or interaction with non-player characters, it does show that it’s possible to have high-quality graphics run at a solid frame rate of 16 frames per second within a desktop browser. The Unreal Engine 3 is used to power such A-list games as Bioshock Infinite, Mass Effect 3 and Batman: Arkham City, and porting it to a browser would be a major accomplishment for Mozilla engineers. Mozilla’s full demonstration video is posted below. More →
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.
Samsung (005930) would love to lessen its dependence on Google (GOOG) services and now the company plans to team with Mozilla to create a next-generation browser engine that will presumably power non-Google web browsers on future Samsung devices. Mozilla says that the new engine, dubbed Servo, “is an attempt to rebuild the Web browser from the ground up on modern hardware” that entails “addressing the causes of security vulnerabilities while designing a platform that can fully utilize the performance of tomorrow’s massively parallel hardware to enable new and richer experiences on the Web.” Needless to say, giving a Servo-powered future version of Firefox a prominent place on Samsung devices would do wonders for Mozilla’s mobile browser market share and would give Samsung an alternative to both the default Android browser and Google’s Chrome on its smartphones and tablets.
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 →
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.