Mozilla said Monday that the organization's new Firefox mobile OS will be running on smartphones around the world beginning next year -- with partner Telefonica's first Vivo-branded models slated for launch in Brazil during the first quarter of 2013.
"The breadth of support for this initiative across the industry makes it clear that there is an opportunity in the market for a new, open mobile ecosystem," said Telefonica Digital CEO Matthew Key.
Formerly known as Boot To Gecko, Mozilla's coming Firefox OS platform will give handset makers wary of Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility an alternative to Android . According to Gartner , Android controlled 56.1 percent of the global smartphone market in the first quarter of this year.
In the United States, the first devices with Firefox OS aboard are likely to come from Mozilla partner Sprint. "Firefox mobile OS can help us drive an HTML 5-based platform for creating lower-cost smartphone options for prepaid, postpaid and wholesale customers," Sprint Product Chief Fared Adib said Monday.
Lowering Cost and Fostering Innovation
The global smartphone market has become highly commoditized of late -- and with differentiation becoming a challenge for manufacturers, said Anshul Gupta, a principal research analyst at Gartner. "This is particularly true for smartphones based on the Android OS, where a strong commoditization trend is at work and most players are finding it hard to break the mold."
Major smartphone industry players with intellectual property assets are able to launch high-end products with hardware features coupled with applications and services, helping differentiation, Gupta said.
"However, in the mid- to low-end segment, price is increasingly becoming the sole differentiator," Gupta told us. "This will only worsen with the entry of new players and the dominance of Chinese manufacturers, leading to increased competition, low profitability and scattered market share."
Mozilla is aiming to position Firefox OS as the best Android alternative for lowering the manufacturing cost of entry-level smartphones -- even as the platform fosters innovation via solid support from the open-source developer community. Among other things, the new mobile OS will enable handset makers to build smartphones based entirely on open Web standards.
With Firefox OS, the premier design goal is to enable HTML5 applications to gain direct access to the underlying capabilities of devices based on the new mobile platform. By contrast, the handsets running Android and iOS today limit access to the device's full range of capabilities to native smartphone apps, Mozilla said. (continued...)
Posted: 2012-07-02 @ 7:04pm PT