So, we all thought the smartphone OS race was dwindling down to two and half players with Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Windows Phone, right? No, hold your bets, coming up from the rear is a late starter from Mozilla, the Firefox browser people, with the very imaginative name Firefox OS
So, what could be new and exciting about another OS for mobiles you may well ask? Well, this one is a fully open mobile ecosystem based on HTML5 for a start. Yes, I know, Android is supposed to be open, too, but it comes from Google and seven major telcos (Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor) are backing the new player, probably to hedge their own bets.
Firefox says the new OS expected to be launched commercially in Brazil in early 2013, will power smartphones built entirely to open Web standards, where all of the device’s capabilities can be developed as HTML5 applications.
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 Inc.
Mozilla claims that 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.
That all sounds great but it begs the question why RIM is still struggling to bring out its BB10 OS over a much longer time frame. Nokia has also made noises that it has a ‘contingency plan
’ if Windows Phone 8 fails to deliver the goods. Maybe it’s called Firefox?