The Mozilla Foundation unveiled two preview smartphones as it invited developers to try its new open-source mobile operating system challenging Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
The announcement marked a major step forward for the new Firefox OS mobile operating system which is being built using open web standards, like its Firefox web browser.
The two preview phones being offered come from the small Spanish manufacturer GeeksPhone, the first in what the nonprofit group hopes will be a series of low-cost smartphones which can be sold around the world.
“This week we are announcing our new Firefox OS developer preview phones because we believe that developers will help bring the power of the web to mobile,” said a blog posting from Stormy Peters, head of websites and developer engagement at Mozilla.
The developer phones are being made by GeeksPhone in partnership with the Spanish carrier Telefonica. “If you’re a developer interested in web technologies and mobile, now is the time to try out Firefox OS,” Peters said.
The operating system, she said, is an effort to “keep the Web open” and “help make sure the power of the web is available to everyone — even on mobile devices.”
By using the open platform, she said, “you’re not locked in to a vendor-controlled ecosystem. You can distribute your app through the Firefox Marketplace, your own website, or any other store based on Mozilla’s open app store technology.”
The non-profit group’s so-called Boot to Gecko project will go after Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS, to create an alternative which could generate smartphones that are less expensive than an iPhone while offering similar experiences to those running on other platforms.
GeeksPhone said on its website that the two new phones were named Keon, with a 3.5 inch display, and Peak, with a larger 4.3 inch screen. Both will use Qualcomm Snapdragon chips.
At first glance, it looks like Mozilla took the simplicity and intuitiveness of iOS and combined it with the functionality and feature-set of Android to come up with Firefox OS. It obviously has a lot in common with both the above-mentioned operating systems but also manages to be unique in certain aspects.
The best thing about Firefox OS has to be its clean and simple interface that’s also very intuitive to use. If you’ve used one of the hundred thousand Android devices or iPhones at any point of time in your life, you already know how to use the Firefox OS. Unlike new mobile operating systems such as Windows Phone or Blackberry 10, Android and iPhone users will realize that there’s virtually no learning curve for Firefox OS.
What makes me nervous for Firefox OS is that at times it feels highly derivative of those two pre-existing, established operating systems. Mozilla will need to have an ace up their sleeves in terms of hardware, pricing and apps to pull users away from other operating systems that offer the same look, feel and functionality. Also, while the focus on simplicity is refreshing, certain features like support for widgets are missed.
Firefox OS certainly emerges as a noteworthy contender in a segment that already has two rampaging 800-tonne gorillas. While it may garner a lot of positive feedback from enthusiasts, Mozilla’s new OS will have to get primed for a tough, merciless battle.
Official Website –> Firefox OS