Mozilla Launches Firefox OS Smartphones
The smartphone revolution has us consumers nearly convinced that Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are the pioneers in mobile phone innovation. After all, these platform giants seamlessly anticipate our every possible want and need and translate them into improved user experience and new product features. That being said, Mozilla, the not-for-profit behind the popular Mozilla Firefox Web Browser, along with its partners, is setting out to prove us otherwise.
Earlier this week, Mozilla announced the imminent regional launches of the Firefox OS smartphones. The operators Deutsche Telecom and Telefonica will be the first to release the Alcatel One Touch Fire and the ZTE Open (both touchscreens). The ZTE Open is currently on sale this week in Spain.
Mozilla and its Phones
The Alcatel One Touch Fire and the ZTE Open will not only be the first HTML5 based smartphones, but also the first entirely web-based mobile phones.
The Firefox OS devices will offer features both familiar (calls, messaging, email, camera, etc.) and novel to the quintessential smartphone experience. The handsets are equipped with built-in social features of Facebook and Twitter, HERE Maps with smart walking and public transit information (+ more) and of course, the Firefox browser.
Among the most anticipated of the smartphones’ unique features is web-based Firefox Marketplace, which offers HTML5 apps on mobile. Another is the Adaptive App Search, a completely fresh take on content search that allows for easy on-demand navigation across content from all apps (whether you have downloaded them or not).
The Firefox OS smartphones represent an expansion of the Firefox/Mozilla identity. Mozilla distinguishes itself by its ideals, mainly advocating an open and free web. In other words, Internet By the People for the People. In light of recent scandals in online content monitoring (US government), Mozilla has strenghthened its emphasis on privacy and security. It is institutionally supported by the Mozilla Foundation (the not-for-profit portion) with the Mozilla Corporation as a subsidiary.
What they have going for them
Let’s be realistic. Firefox OS mobile phones will not dethrone Apple iOS and Android devices. Mozilla is undoubtedly the underdog in the smartphone game. However, they do have a fighting chance at third place in the OS war, which would require them to get ahead of Windows and Blackberry. That third spot is where the real competition is at.
Currently, Firefox Marketplace offers over 1,145 apps. It has a long way to go if if you consider that Android and Apple both have upwards of 700,000 apps. Nonetheless, with over a thousand apps, Firefox OS delivers the essentials (such as, AccuWeather, EA games like Poppit, SoundCloud, Terra, Time Out, TMZ, etc). Since writing apps will be easier because of HTML5, Mozilla estimates that it shouldn't take too long for further app proliferation.
The Firefox OS smartphones are primarily targeted to developers (for the aforementionned reason), as well as new smartphone users. The way in which Mozilla hopes to compel new smartphone users is through its low price, given that it is cheaper than Apple and Android devices. Overall, whether the Firefox OS smarthphones become a hit or not, Mozilla will clearly set multiple precedents with their release.
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