Mozilla Showers JSConf Attendees With Free Boot To Gecko Smartphones

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Giving free devices away is something of a time-honored tradition when it comes to getting people interested into your platform. We’ve seen Google do it, we’ve seen Microsoft do it, and now at a conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., we’ve seen Mozilla do it. In an apparent effort to drive awareness and developer interest around their web-based mobile platform, Mozilla has been handing out Boot to Gecko-powered GSM Nexus Ss to lucky JSConf attendees.

Boot to Gecko’s big draw, if you hadn’t heard yet, is that it’s completely platform agnostic — all of the heavy lifting, from telephony to geolocation to messaging to hardware-accelerated graphics are handled with HTML5 and a slew of impressive APIs. Mozilla has been submitting those APIs (and those in the pipeline) to the W3C for standardization, and the end result in Mozilla’s words, will be a “complete standalone operating system for the open web.”

This move is a pretty bold one, considering that it will be the first time Boot to Gecko will be made available to the public running on an actual device without a Mozilla rep hovering close at hand. It should be noted that B2G itself is up for grabs on GitHub, though Mozilla only offers instructions on getting it loaded on a Galaxy S II.

The last time I saw Mozilla’s web-based Boot to Gecko operating system, it was running rather smoothly on a GS II cradled gently by Johnathan Nightingale, Mozilla’s Director of Firefox Engineering. It looked remarkably polished for a project that only really came to life last July when Mozilla’s Andreas Gal proposed the project in Mozilla’s developer newsgroup, though there were still more than a few hiccups to work out. The camera had a tendency to lock the device up for example, though it was sort of a feat to see that camera work at all. Still, the nuts and bolts of the phone (think dialer, messaging, contacts, etc) worked more-or-less without a hitch, and should only get better with time and attention.

Attention for the platform, as it turns out, isn’t exactly in short supply. It’s already garnered interest from key mobile players at this year’s Mobile World Congress, not least of which is Madrid-based Telefonica, the third largest mobile network operator in the world. Together the two companies announced in February that they would work together to release the first “open web” devices sometime later this year.

Oh, and here’s the obligatory Oprah joke. You know, just because.

Hat tip to @codylindley