Mozilla Announces Firefox OS App Workshops, Along With Free Preview Phones For Attendees

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Mozilla has announced a new workshop series designed to help spark interest in app development for the forthcoming Firefox OS, with the first three to take place in Madrid, Spain on April 20; Bogotá, Colombia on May 18; and Warsaw, Poland on June 1. Potential applicants have to submit an application to attend, in which they’re asked to demo their web development expertise and experience. In exchange, they’ll get hands-on access to Firefox OS devs, as well as Firefox OS Developer Preview hardware.

The goal is to get small teams or individuals who have experience building software for PhoneGap, Chrome, webOS, BlackBerry WebWorks or other open web formats to get started on porting their applications to Firefox OS, and to help begin filling out the Firefox Marketplace ahead of the mobile operating system’s launch later this year in a group of nine pilot countries, followed by the U.S. in 2014.

The launch countries include Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela, so it makes sense that Mozilla would focus on a few of those markets in its first Firefox OS App Workshops. The organization also said that it will look into broadening that pool with additional sessions later on “in the season” in its blog post announcing the news.

Space is limited, though Mozilla doesn’t put a specific cap on how many developers it will be accepting through the sessions. Sweetening the pie with access to early hardware (likely the Keon or Peak devices revealed back in January) is a good way to drum up interest, but that’s not all Mozilla is doing to try to build its software library ahead of launch. A couple of weeks ago Mozilla revealed its Firefox OS 3.0 simulator, complete with new features, and it’s already been securing high-profile commitments from big A players like Twitter.

It’s also doing well with carriers, especially those in markets where there’s currently not much adoption of smartphones in general, and therefore plenty of opportunity to score big with a low-cost option based on open standards. I suspect these new Mozilla-hosted events will be pretty popular, and you can expect to see more roll out soon if you’re not in one of these initial markets.