Mozilla announces Firefox OS for emerging markets

Browser maker plans HTML 5-based mobile ecosystem to power smartphones with "attainable prices", with support from seven European carriers as well as ZTE and TCL Communication so far.

Mozilla Foundation says it will launch its Firefox operating system (OS), which will be based entirely on HTML 5 and open Web standards, in order to unlock many current limitations of mobile Web development. It will target emerging markets, starting with Brazil in 2013.

In a blog post on Monday, the browser maker said the new OS will power the launch of a new breed of smartphones built entirely to meet open Web standards. This means the device's basic capabilities such as calling, messaging and games, can be developed as HTML 5 applications, it explained.

"The introduction of the open mobile OS continues the Mozilla mission to promote opennes, 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 of Mozilla, in the blog post.

Operators such as Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, and Telenor has also pledged their support for the latest OS entrant, having recognized the potential of the technology to "deliver compelling smartphone experiences at attainable prices", it added.

Phonemakers TCL Communication and ZTE have also announced on Monday that it would manufacture the first Firefox OS devices using Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors. These are expected to launch commercially in Brazil in early 2013 through Telefonica's brand, Vivo, Mozilla revealed.

With the optimization of the platform for entry-level smartphones and the removal of unnecessary middleware, operators can now offer these devices that offer richer user experiences at the low end of the smartphones price range. This, it said, will help drive adoption across developing markets.

The reference implementation of the required Web APIs (application programming interfaces) has been submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for standardization, the company said.


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