Very soon, there will be an alternative to the smartphone operating system software produced by giants Apple and Google along with other, smaller tech players. A new Firefox-based mobile operating system is slated for completion by early 2013, which will mean competition for industry heavyweights—particularly Android—as well as state-of-the-art smartphones priced at much more affordable rates than the ones currently on the market.
Firefox OS, as it is called, will use up fewer system resources than leading smartphone operating systems and be built to open Web standards, with each feature of the phone being an application coded in HTML5. The concept is similar to Google’s Chrome OS, but designed for phones rather than computers.
Further features worth highlighting are full social media integration, allowing for rapid posting to Twitter and Facebook; full access to Google Maps; potential for widgets; and efficient power usage that allows for stable operation even at processor speeds as low as 600 MHz (http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/mozilla-firefox-os-10-things-you-need-to-know-1088177).
With Mozilla developing the Firefox OS, and TCL Communication Technology and ZTE manufacturing the devices that will run it, this Internet browser and mobile interface will combine in an innovative telecommunications product that will be available at a range of different price points, including the lower end at $50 a pop (compared with the $200 needed to purchase a typical smartphone). Cost effectiveness will help ensure the Firefox phone’s successful adoption in developing markets and bring the Internet to millions of people who have done without thus far.
According to the Mozilla, creator of the popular Firefox web browser and developer of the project, Firefox Mobile OS’s commercial launch will take place in Brazil in the first quarter of 2013, and continue into other emerging markets. It is only in the second half of 2013 that the phone is expected to make its appearance in the US and the UK.
It will be crucial for the phone platform’s success to have strong financial support from major handset makers and telecommunications companies. Fortunately, companies backing the project include Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor. Device manufacturers ZTE and TCL Communication Technology (under the Alcatel brand) are set to be the first to manufacture the phones with Snapdragon processors by Qualcomm, the leading producer of smartphone platforms.
The Firefox OS will be competing with more than just Google’s Android, which has the highest market share at 60%, and Apple’s iPhone, with its proprietary iOS software; the market is also saturated with the smartphones of such contenders as Microsoft, Samsung’s Bada and RIM. The Firefox phone will have to do one better than them all to stand a chance at a portion of the market share. And as the Firefox-run smartphone is still in the development stage, it is too early to draw comparisons between it and currently available phones. But as technology fans affirm, Firefox OS is one of the most anticipated systems around and will definitely be on the watch lists of Firefox users and others who support Mozilla.
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