MANILA, Philippines — The makers of Firefox, one of the most popular Internet browsers today, is looking to release its own mobile operating system by next year as it signs up a local telco to be one of its Philippine partners.
The new mobile OS, which will be named Firefox OS after its famous browser brand, will be based entirely on HTML5, an emerging coding platform that is slowly being adopted by Web developers the past year.
The open-source OS will be sitting on top of a Linux flavor–from which Google’s Android OS is also based–and will run applications on a certain version of Firefox.
The difference, though, is that Firefox OS will allow access to certain smartphone features such as telephony, cameras, and gyroscopes.
TCL Communication Technology, makers of the Alcatel phones, as well as ZTE have signed on-board to make the first Firefox OS phones, due to be released early next year in Brazil.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors will reportedly power the devices.
Aside from device manufacturers, the new mobile OS has also received backing from the world’s leading telecommunications firms, including Smart Communications, Inc. in the Philippines.
Other telco partners of Mozilla include Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, and Telenor.
Mozilla is positioning its OS as an enabler for low-cost, entry-level devices to flood emerging markets such as the Philippines, offered mainly through the telcos, due to the platform’s optimization for such offerings as well as the removal of unnecessary middleware layers.
“Mobile operators will have the ability to offer richer experiences at a range of price points including at the low end of the smartphone price range, helping to drive adoption across developing markets,” the company said.
By eliminating an arbiter–such as device manufacturers or OS owners–Mozilla is touting a truly “open” mobile OS in which updates to the system can be pushed out to phones in real-time, instead of waiting for specified product announcements.
Smart’s Chief Wireless Advisor Orlando Vea welcomed the announcement as well as the firm’s partnership with Mozilla, citing the “exciting potentials of an HTML5-based, fully open mobile ecosystem.”
“As the leading wireless services provider in the Philippines, we are keen to work with industry players like Mozilla to create relevant and delightful mobile Internet experiences for Filipino mobile users as we make data connectivity even more pervasive in the country,” Vea said.
It is unclear, however, what role telcos would play aside from bringing these phones to market.
Mozilla has been padding its mobile presence in recent months, beginning with a major update for its Android application as well as a prototype for a re-imagined full-screen browser for the iPad.
With the announcement of Firefox OS, Mozilla joins the growing list of mobile OS providers that include market-dominating iOS and Android platforms, as well as Windows Phone.