Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email software, is creating its own operating system for mobile phones as an alternative to the likes of Android.
The project was originally called "Boot to Gecko" but will launch as Firefox OS. It has reportedly been in development for some time but Mozilla now says that it plans to release it in 2013 and has announced the first of its partner companies.
Mozilla is a non-profit-making organisation. Its Firefox OS will be based on HTML5 standards, which should keep the system open and accessible, more so than Android and definitely more than Apple’s iOS as there won’t be restrictive licensing agreements or revenue sharing deals to finalise.
The HTML5 toolkit will enable the usual smartphone features such as camera, contacts and text messaging to work within the Firefox OS framework. Web apps such as Google Docs and Dropbox are examples of how fully-featured utilities can operate within HTML5.
Mozilla announced that ZTE and TCL are hardware partners on the project. Based in China, both tend to focus on the budget smartphone sector. ZTE made the handset also known as the Orange San Francisco, while TCL uses the Alcatel brand. The new devices will use Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.
Therefore, Mozilla could have its eye on the emerging markets in developing nations as well as any cost-conscious westerners. The first phones with Firefox OS are expected to debut in Brazil.
The OS is backed by mobile operators in various countries, many with an international reach, including Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile), Telefónica (O2), Smart, Sprint, Etisalat, Telecom Italia and Telenor.