At MWC 2013 Mozilla announced that Firefox OS was coming to a range of mobile phones this year, with the aim of becoming a viable third contender in a market already dominated by Android and iOS. Here at Store Three, we thought we'd bring you the lowdown.
Sony, LG, Huawei, ZTE, and Alcatel have already committed to manufacturing devices for Firefox OS and 18 mobile carriers around the world have signed up to sell them. Among these carriers is Three's very own Hutchison Group. Christian Salbaing, Deputy Chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Europe, was recently quoted as saying:
"Hutchison Three Group is supportive of the Mozilla initiative to provide an open approach to services for operators and to provide devices for entry-level smartphone users at a more affordable price."
He also went on to say, "We believe the introduction of Firefox to mobile devices will increase competition in operating systems, improve consumer choice and hopefully lower overall device costs, bringing smartphones and advanced services within the reach of more of our customers." So, there you go.
Mozilla's strategy is to initially target emerging markets, offering Firefox OS budget smartphones in places where feature phones (the precursors to smartphones) are still the most popular devices. They'll be rolling out to Brazil in early 2013, and then Latin America, Eastern Europe and Spain.
Higher-end devices with Firefox OS are expected to launch in late 2013 in the USA and UK, but it remains to be seen whether Firefox can really compete in a market that is so hugely dominated by Google's Android monopoly and Apple's iOS.
One thing working in Firefox's favour is the enormous amount of worldwide goodwill and brand recognition that many people harbour towards the open-source company who challenged Microsoft for the web browser crown. Also in their favour is that mobile phone manufacturers such as Sony and Samsung are growing increasingly concerned about their reliance on Android and are looking to move away from Google's mighty, controlling clutches (and not to mention claw back some of the huge profits they've been sending Google's way).
While it's been reported that Samsung won't be constructing mobile phones for Firefox OS (they'll be loading Tizen onto their products instead), big hitters such as Sony and LG are on board and that can only spell good things for Mozilla's chances of carving a viable niche in the market. And it does illustrate the point well - that even Samsung, the premier manufacturer of Android smartphones, are looking to market alternatives - meaning we can expect much more of a development and marketing push in this area.
So, what can we expect from Firefox OS on 3? The HTML5-based framework of Firefox OS means that every feature of the device — including even the phone dialler — is an HTML5 application. In other words, every phone feature in Firefox OS that you access will be a web-based app, which is a huge difference from the way things currently work with operating systems. It allows for a huge level of flexibility, so networks or phone manufacturers can customise their operating system environment in any way they choose.
Firefox Smartphone Performance
All Firefox phones, it's been announced, will be packing Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, which are the leaders in their field - meaning that you'll be able to get the very best out of your Firefox smartphone.
3 Mobile Apps on Firefox
Mozilla also officially launched the Firefox Marketplace, an app store featuring mobile Web applications and websites that will be able to operate on the new smartphones. Both the Firefox OS and Marketplace are optimized towards HTML5 development and open Web standards using Mozilla’s Firefox browser as its backbone.
Well, that's about all for now. Keep checking back with Store 3 for the latest news and regular updates about Firefox smartphones! We'll be letting you know as soon as we hear more.