Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko project has come a long way in just under a year — what began with the idea of building a mobile operating system based on open web standards like HTML5 has led to a full-fledged product being prepared for a commercial launch in the coming months.
What’s more, Mozilla has just confirmed that their HTML5-friendly mobile ecosystem now has the support of a handful of new carrier and hardware partners, not to mention a new name. The project has been referred to as Boot to Gecko since it was first revealed last July, but Mozilla has officially rechristened the product Firefox OS.
Spain-based Telefonica was the first network operator to link up with Mozilla earlier this year, and today it’s joined by Sprint, Deutsche Telekom, Smart, Telecom Italia, and Telenor. Meanwhile, the project has also caught the attention of Chinese hardware manufacturers ZTE and TCL (which is perhaps best known for their Alcatel-branded phones) who have committed to creating the first Firefox OS handsets.
Considering the device portfolios that these two companies bring to the table, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to hear that Firefox OS has been optimized for entry-level smartphones. Sadly, neither company has offered up specifics about the devices they’ll be producing, though Mozilla notes that they will be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how the entrance of another open-source operating system geared toward the low end will affect more entrenched players like Google’s Android, especially since a considerable chunk of Android’s growth can be attributed to their prominence in that segment.
Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs confirmed this past April that the first Firefox OS devices would make their official debut in Brazil, though at the time he stated that the hardware would be on store shelves either by the end of the year or in early 2013. The issue seems to have been ironed out over the past few months though, as Mozilla and Telefonica’s Brazilian subsidiary Vivo are indeed looking to launch their first handsets come next year. Despite buy-in from carriers in the United States, Germany, Italy, and the Philippines, there’s still no word on when Firefox OS will make its way to other locales.