Mozilla’s Firefox OS Gets First Update As It Heads For 2nd Phase Of Market Launches

Mozilla’s HTML5-based open mobile platform Firefox OS, which bagged support from a raft of carriers at the start of this year as a low cost alternative to Android-based smartphones, is gearing up to launch in more markets.

New device hardware running FFOS is also incoming, Mozilla said today in a blog — although it’s not naming the forthcoming markets and devices at this point, noting only that new phones will run the latest version of the OS, FFOS (1.1), also announced today.

“Individual partners will announce specifics about upcoming launches in each market,” it added.

New features in the v1.1 update to FFOS include: performance improvements, such as better app load times and smoother scrolling; support for new languages (now more than 15 languages); support for MMS; a push notifications API; and more. “This Firefox OS update will be available for current users and on developer phones soon,” said Mozilla.

The first FFOS phone, the ZTE Open, debuted in Spain back in July — costing $90 on Telefónica’s network. Poland was next, with Deutsche Telekom ranging the Alcatel One Touch Fire. Mozilla and its carrier partners also added Columbia and Venezuela (Telefónica), and the U.S. and U.K. to FFOS’ market footprint in August — the latter two markets being something of a soft launch, with Mozilla offering the ZTE Open exclusively on eBay (unlocked, so sans carrier partner).

Mozilla is billing the looming “second round” of market launches as evidence of momentum for its fledgling OS — an OS that it’s fashioned as an Android alternative carriers’ pet (FFOS’ openness provides telcos with a platform they can mould how they please, cladding it in carrier colours or larding it with their own content). But claims of “momentum” and “positive market reception” are not backed up by any sales data disclosures yet.

FFOS’ carrier backers, who are absolutely in this project with Mozilla — having thrown their weight behind FFOS to try to build something that can draw oxygen away from smartphone OS market leader Android and thereby wrest a degree of control back from Google —  are also quoted making positive noises about Firefox OS’ reception. But again, without stumping up any hard data to back up the claims.

Telefónica, which is lining up additional FFOS launches in Brazil and three other Latin America markets during Q4 2013, said in a supporting statement that its first three FFOS launches have shown “a strong consumer appetite for a great value and open smartphone offer”. Deutsche Telekom added that its Poland FFOS debut had been “very successful”.

It remains to be seen whether all these positive noises will translate into notable marketshare gains.

In the mean time, carriers are continuing to try. Other (named) markets where carriers have committed to carrying FFOS soon include Germany, Greece and Hungary (Deutsche Telekom), and Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro (Telenor) before the end of the year. Expect more markets to be added, as Mozilla & co give FFOS another shove soon.