You may have used Ubuntu on the desktop, you may have considered flashing it to your device. Now it’s in an all-new phone from ZTE too. This is another mobile OS jumping on the HTML5 bandwagon and could prove to be a serious competitor for the existing smartphone OS’s. There was a lot of interest amongst attendees today and several demonstrations were being held without breaks.
We spoke to Lucas Adamski, Engineering Director for the Firefox OS. He oversees development of the open mobile ecosystem. He told us how the Firefox OS will power the first “Open Web Devices” and this cheap ZTE Open is priced extremely competitively.
HTML5 apps, as you may know from our Firefox OS story, are easy to create and run. There’s a Firefox Marketplace where apps are connected to your “online identity” so you can use them on other devices and platforms.
The OS itself has a navigation system which is a little different to the Android UI.There’s no hard or soft keys and you simply slide out the left side of the screen to access your favourite apps (by the way Ubuntu, we love how you spell “favourite” correctly) ;), whilst sliding from the right edge takes you back to the last app you were using.
The OS is designed for multitasking, and the tablet form-factor seems to show this off best. Switch apps, mix things up and get your work done quicker.
Like Firefox OS, there’s a central search system which lets you see data from email, phone contacts, Facebook and Twitter when you search for something. There’s also a tighter integration of messaging and social media, with the ability to reply to messages as they come in, whether it be via Facebook, Twitter, text or email.
We got a great video showing off the OS below..
Mozilla Announces Global Expansion for Firefox OS
Eighteen major operators welcoming Open Web device initiative; first launch markets announced
Initial devices from Alcatel One Touch, LG and ZTE; Huawei to follow
Barcelona, Spain – Mobile World Congress – February 24, 2013; 18:05 PM CET – Mozilla today previewed the first commercial build of its Firefox OS open mobile ecosystem and announced new operator rollout plans at a press conference before the start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The first wave of Firefox OS devices will be available to consumers in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela. Additional markets will be announced soon.
To date, 17 key operators spanning the globe have committed to the open web device initiative: América Móvil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Three Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia Group, Telefónica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom. Telstra is welcoming the Mozilla initiative as an opportunity to deliver an innovative mobile Web experience to their customers. The breadth of operators now backing Mozilla’s Firefox OS demonstrates significant industry support for a fully-adaptable, unconstrained mobile platform.
Firefox OS smartphones are the first built entirely to open Web standards, enabling every feature to be developed as an HTML5 application. Web apps access every underlying capability of the device, bypassing the typical hindrances of HTML5 on mobile to deliver substantial performance. The platform’s flexibility allows carriers to easily tailor the interface and develop localized services that match the unique needs of their customer base.
Mozilla is working with manufacturers Alcatel (TCL), LG and ZTE to build the first Firefox OS devices, with Huawei to follow later in the year, all powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon™ mobile processors. In addition, Mozilla has signed strategic relationships with key content and service partners (see separate release). Consumers will get a dynamic, rich and open smartphone experience that provides easy access to everything they love on the Web, including Facebook and Twitter integration, with a simple, fast interface and built-in cost controls.
“Firefox OS brings the freedom and unbounded innovation of the open Web to mobile users everywhere,” said Gary Kovacs, CEO, Mozilla. “With the support of our vibrant community and dedicated partners, our goal is to level the playing field and usher in an explosion of content and services that will meet the diverse needs of the next two billion people online.”
Initial, “first wave” launch plans were announced by América Móvil, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Telenor, most seeing starts mid-year. More information on the rollout plans for individual operators is included below.
“América Móvil supports the launch of the new operating system by Mozilla since it represents an excellent alternative to its customers, especially in emerging markets. An open platform based on Web standards provides a favorable ecosystem for the development of innumerable applications,” said Marco Quatorze, CMO of América Móvil. “The company is committed to launch Firefox OS phones in Mexico and all possible markets during 2013.”
“Partnerships are an important method in paving the way for innovations. We rely on open platforms because we want to create freedom of choice on behalf of our customers,” said René Obermann, Chairman of the Board of Deutsche Telekom at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “That’s why we support Mozilla in developing an innovative and open standard for mobile terminals. The launch of the first smartphone in Europe with the new Firefox operating system is an important step on the way to more competition between the different ecosystems.”
Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, Chief Executive Officer at the Etisalat Group said: “We are happy to be part of this innovation and to support Mozilla in the launch of this new operating system. Firefox OS smartphones will make a valuable addition to our portfolio and grant our customers a rich and personalized experience. We welcome this development and congratulate Mozilla on their progress.”
Hutchison Three Group
“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,” said Christian Salbaing, Deputy Chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Europe. “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.”
“We are pleased to announce the introduction of Firefox OS smartphones into the Japan market in one or two years’ time,” said Takashi Tanaka, CEO of KDDI. “It is expected to provide better experience and diverse choice to our customers, since an open standard Web platform will bring sustainable innovation and fair competition to its ecosystem. The idea totally fits to our strategy. To support the achievement of it, KDDI group is working closely with Mozilla for the sake of contribution to Firefox OS development, especially on network and security parts.”
Dr. Suk-Chae Lee, CEO of KT, stated that “with the transformation of existing network to All-IP, all kinds of information and services such as voice, data, and media will be provided through the All-IP network. Firefox OS includes HTML5, which enables much easier and simpler support for All-IP based services via multiple devices and platforms. KT fully supports the Firefox OS initiative which will accelerate the distribution of virtual goods – the future growth engine of our global economy.”
“We see a positive sign for the whole industry when it comes to a new player guided by the principles of openness, cross-platform possibility and supported by market players,” said Vitaly Starodubov, COO of MegaLabs.
Paul O’Sullivan, CEO Group Consumer, SingTel, said: “SingTel is a firm believer in giving our customers choice and encouraging innovation and so are excited about the capabilities that can arise from an open mobile ecosystem using HTML5.“
Orlando B. Vea, Chief Wireless Advisor of Smart said, “We’re excited to see Firefox OS in the market because this will help bridge the digital divide. Its HTML5-based technology will make available affordable mobile devices with an open mobile ecosystem. This is aligned with our inclusive vision of putting mobile Internet in the hands of every customer.”
“Sprint supports an open mobile ecosystem that enables freedom and creativity for developers,” said Fared Adib, senior vice president, product development and operations for Sprint. “Firefox OS provides a new level of flexibility for developers to create innovative apps our customers can enjoy.”
“2013 marks the start of a new phase in our industry, one that will be characterized by open standards,” said Cesar Alierta, Chairman & CEO of Telefónica. “For Telefónica and the telco sector as a whole, Firefox OS is a hugely important strategic initiative to change the prevailing value chain in the digital world. It is a major step to bring balance back to the telco sector, an initiative with strong cross-industry support. I am very pleased that our customers in Brazil, Colombia, Spain and Venezuela will be amongst the first in the world to experience Firefox OS and I look forward to making it available to all Telefónica customers globally.”
“Telenor is pleased to partner with Mozilla and other major players in developing the Firefox mobile operating system. Through this initiative we aim to provide an even larger part of our customers with more choice and a great mobile Internet experience, as well as help connect the next billions of customers to the Web,” said Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas.
“TMN is constantly searching for the best available options in the market, continuously focusing on future proof bets, which can provide new ways to achieve higher customer satisfaction and seamless integration of services. TMN´s association with Mozilla to launch the new Firefox OS is of great importance to the Portuguese telecom market, as it increases the number of platforms, user interfaces and ecosystems available to mobile equipment users,” said Luís Avelar, CMO from Portugal Telecom Group.
“The majority of our customers live in emerging markets and their demand for mobile Internet access and OTT applications is rapidly accelerating,” said Jo Lunder, CEO of Vimpelcom. “At VimpelCom we want to drive seamless integration between OTT and our core mobile services. We support the development of open standards and it is only natural that we support the development of the Firefox OS – one of the most economical alternative smartphone operating systems.”
“Qualcomm has been working closely with Mozilla to optimize Firefox OS to our Snapdragon processors,” said Cristiano Amon, Executive Vice President, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Co-President, Qualcomm Mobile and Computing. “This tight integration of software and hardware has allowed us to provide a rich HTML5 Web experience never seen before on a mobile device.”
“The impressive lineup of operators who have now pledged to distribute Firefox OS devices speaks clearly and powerfully to the platform’s potential and points to 2013 being a breakout year for Mozilla in the mobile domain,” said John Jackson, Research Vice President for IDC. “The diversity of operator support, spanning both developed and emerging markets, is a powerful endorsement of the platform’s capabilities and to the third party innovation the platform will attract and enable. With these operator commitments, as well as clear progress with device manufacturers and content providers, Mozilla also directly addresses the twin challenges of scaling distribution and offering third parties a clear path to revenue. Both of which are critical to attracting and sustaining developers’ allegiance.”
New Firefox OS Branding Mozilla also unveiled its new Firefox OS consumer identity and brand marketing campaign at the Mobile World Congress press conference. The new branding “unleashes the Fox” to illustrate the qualities of Firefox OS: fun and friendly; supportive and protective; fast and powerful.