Firefox Phone Is Real And It’s Coming
January 22, 2013

Mozilla To Release Firefox Phone

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

Another open source operating system is on the near horizon. Mozilla, the non-profit organization that produces Firefox, the email client Thunderbird, and a number of other online platforms, is due to release its Firefox OS, an open operating system for mobile devices. The OS and accompanying phones are expected to be released as early as next month, Business Insider reports. Mozilla is offering a Firefox OS Developer Preview Phone in advance of the launch, in an effort to give developers access to create apps and build the Firefox OS ecosystem.

It's not enough that users can browse the mobile web using Firefox, Mozilla is after the whole phone with its Firefox OS. Like Android, Firefox is an open source operating system. While Mozilla is working with handset manufacturers, and its preview handset is made by a Madrid, Spain-based company called Geeksphone, the Firefox OS can be installed on an Android phone.

The handset produced by Geeksphone will run a Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 1Ghz CPU. It will operate under multiple GSM standards and be capable of 2G EDGE. Additionally, the phone will have a 3.5-inch HVGA multi-touch screen and a 3-megapixel camera. It will come unlocked and any SIM card can be added. This indicates the Firefox OS phone might not be picked up by carriers, but may be one users can purchase and add their SIM cards to put their service on the phone.

By launch, it is expected that two handsets will be available. The Keon from Geeksphone, which is being provided in the developer preview. Telefonica will produce the Peak, a second handset. Prices were not immediately offered and it is unclear whether the Peak handset will be available to developers in advance of the official launch.

To promote the creation of apps to populate the Firefox OS, Mozilla is hosting Firefox OS App Days, a worldwide set of 20+ hack days, which is taking place this week. During this event, Mozilla is offering the opportunity to learn, hack, share and celebrate Firefox OS. Of course if a few apps come out of the process, the Firefox OS will be all the more attractive to users.

A thriving app store can make or break a mobile platform. Mozilla hopes it can get developers to create apps for the new platform. On its page introducing the handset and developer program, Mozilla explains why developers should create apps for Firefox OS.

"Keep the web open. Support the open web and help make sure the power of the web is available to everyone -- even on mobile devices." A second point notes, "Simplicity. Develop on a single technology stack (HTML5/CSS/JavaScript/new WebAPIs) and deliver across the web and devices."

A third selling point for developing apps for the platform: "Freedom. 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."

Mozilla's objective is to create open source platforms. Its Firefox browser has a community of developers who create add-ons and apps for the browser to add functionality. Many of those developers will likely be recruited to develop apps for the Firefox OS.