Update: Apparently, Mozilla re-announced the shipping of the Flame, which actually began shipping last month after a pre-order period. So — it is still shipping, one way or another.
Firefox OS is a would-be competitor to Android and iOS, the two major mobile platforms out there, with all the challenges that entails, but the process of getting things going has been slow. Today, however, Mozilla has shipped the Flame Developer reference phone to developers who created apps for the platform or pre-ordered the device, and they’re providing video tutorials for new Flame owners to get devs started.
The Firefox OS phone is a $170 factory unlocked device with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 4.5-inch 854×480 screen and 1GB of RAM, which can be configured to emulate devices with much less processor power for the purposes of building apps that work across a range of hardware specifications designed for a range of budgets.
The Flame device is the first “official” developer hardware for Firefox OS, despite the launch of previous handsets running the mobile platform, both to consumers and interested developers through partners including carriers in parts of Europe and Latin America, and through an early partnership with Geeksphone that introduced the Keon and Peak, as well as the dual-boot Revolution introduced earlier this year.
Firefox OS hasn’t yet managed to crack the charts in any significant manner, and Android is eating up the low end of the market in the wake of Nokia mostly walking away. Microsoft is also getting serious about targeting entry-level consumers with cheap, contract-free hardware thanks to lower or absent license fees for its Windows Phone OS. The Flame could help it generate more interest in software, which could attract more users, but at this stage, fighting off the incumbents seems like an impossible task.