If Facebook building a phone was too much too handle, wait ’till you hear this. Mozilla, an open-source, non-profit organization behind the Firefox browser, announced this morning that its “Boot to Gecko” mobile initiative has gained support from several big telecoms, including Sprint, Deutsche Telekom, Smart, Telecom Italia and Telenor, to name a few. Mozilla also said that going forward, its mobile project is to be called Firefox OS. So, when are Firefox phones due and should Apple be worried?

According to a post over at the Mozilla blog, carrier Vivo, a Telefónica property, will launch the first device to run the new mobile operating system early next year in Brazil. Chinese vendors ZTE and TCL (the maker of Alcatel handsets) also committed to making Firefox phones.

Just don’t expect high-end smartphones: Firefox devices will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors and target mid-to-low-end of the market and first-time smartphone buyers in emerging markets. Because of this, Google should be more concerned about Mozilla OS than Apple.

Unlike iOS, Android and even webOS for that matter, Firefox OS is an HTML5 project top to bottom so you shouldn’t expect snazzy, polished apps that we’ve grown accustomed to.

However, as chips that go into mobile devices become more powerful, Mozilla is betting that the performance issue wil sort itself out over time, making its HTML5 software appealing to carriers who are now more than ever looking to foster growth of alternative mobile platforms to counterbalance the iOS-Android duopoly.

Of course, Mozilla has a strong presence on the web and mobile, via their Firefox mobile app for Android and other platforms. On iOS, Mozilla is toying with a brand new minimalistic web browser code-named Junior.

As for HTML5, the organization is hoping to turn the promise of interoperability that HTML5 provides into its major selling point. Virtually all modern computing devices support this markup language, often used to structure and present content on the web. In theory, HTML5 web apps only need to be written once and are easily supported across fragmented mobile platforms.

But there’s a catch called performance.

Before Apple opened up the iPhone to third-parties with the App Store in the summer of 2008, the company had been trying to persuade developers to write web apps, but to no avail – web apps were slow, sluggish and nearly as attractive as their native counterparts.

This is the reality of the smartphone game today.

Carriers expect Microsoft’s Windows Phone to become a viable third platform and I can easily envision them in their wet dreams supporting another open, non-curated platform such as Firefox OS, as it bears the promise of endless customization.

But it ain’t just junkware carriers may be hoping to put on Firefox OS devices. In my personal opinion, carriers are in the panic mode, exploring whatever options are on the table in order to wrestle some of the control of mobile business back from Apple and Google.

Good luck with that, I say.

What say you?

Will Mozilla successfully boot Firefox OS or will it fail spectacularly like Palm’s (otherwise awesome) webOS?

  • its just like mozilla is gonna learn the E=MC(sq) right in the nursery calsses…………………………..they never gonna beat apple……………and will not reach so soon…..or neva

    • jose castro

      i wouldn’t say never but for the time being….

    • Solowalker

      Problem is, how many people have tried to push web apps and failed? Answer: everyone, including Apple. Apple and Google quickly transitioned to native apps (I use “native” loosely in regards to Google). webOS’s “apps” were weird hybrids of web technologies trying to be native apps. Playbook OS? Yep, web apps with a focus on Flash, even. While webOS got rave reviews, both it and Playbook OS flopped. What makes Mozilla think they’re so special? And the whole “as processors get faster over time, HTML5 will become fine” idea is flawed at the foundation as that is basically admitting that the first several generations will have crappy performance in that fragile period where you need to absolutely WOW your customers to win more customers and stay relevant.

      I suppose you never know how things will go. People may not mind the relatively poor performance if the phone is cheap enough. They may sell so many in the low-end market that developers just have to start support it, then they start expanding upwards to mid then high end markets. Or they could come up with some dramatic paradigm shifts that everyone demands on their phones and Apple, Google, Microsoft and others are slow to respond to and they could get blindsided just like Apple did with the initial iPhone.

      But all of that sounds pretty farfetched at this stage, especially with another year before release.

    • Sina

      You better gonna learn how to type “CLASSES” and don’t use much periods ……… !

  • its funny how every one wants to make a smartphone

    • jose castro


    • Kok Hean

      And get sued by Apple for infringement.

  • ricky_nguyen

    Mozilla and Facebook should stick to improving their mobile apps to make them better for consumer to enjoy so they can quit complaining that it is unresponsive or slow instead of trying to making a so called high end or mid-range to low range smartphone that consumers won’t buy in the end

  • I see this FireFox project ultimately teaming up with the UBUNTU project.

    That partnership would probably do the trick and create a viable cross platform OS that could take on Android and iOS.

    • There’s already “Ubuntu on Android” that Canonical has showed off, and it’s a-freaking-mazing. I can see Firefox OS doing this too, but more with Android.

      • Yes, I know, and you are right – its “a-freaking-mazing”!!!

        But, that is why I point out if Mozilla were to “team up” with UBUNTU, combined they could really make a GAME CHANGER!!! 🙂

  • is iDownloadBlog ,TouchArcade everyone’s going to create a phone :S