Mozilla has been working on Firefox OS, a project that was formerly know as Boot2Gecko, for quite some time. Back in July 2012 the company announced the name change and first partnerships with manufacturers and mobile phone companies.
Back then it was announced that Firefox OS would first become available in Brazil and other emerging markets, and that made sense for a number of reasons. It would be foolish to pit the first release of Firefox OS against Android or iOS devices in markets that those phones dominate. While Firefox OS devices are certainly low-cost in comparison to the majority of smartphones out there, the lower-specs that go along with that and the dominance of Android and iOS would make it a tough uphill battle for Mozilla to establish the Firefox OS brand.
Yesterday, Mozilla announced that the first distribution wave of Firefox OS will hit Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela in 2013, and that additional launches will be announced in the near future.
First Firefox OS phones will be manufactured by Alcatel (TCL) and ZTE, with Huawei following later this year. Hardware-wise, all we know right know is that the phones are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors.
Update: A screenshot of a ZTE phone spec sheet was posted on Engadget. If the information are correct, ZTE's OPEN phone will be powered by a Cortex-A5-based Qualcomm MSM7225A processor, a 3.5 inch HVGA display with capacitive touchscreen, 256 MB of DDR SDRAM, 512 MB NAND storage, and WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 (with EDR3), GPS and FM radio. The phone features a 3.2 megapixel camera as well.
This is not high end but not bad either, and everything will boil down to price more than anything else in the end.
Firefox OS video previews
The Verge posted a video comparison of the zTE Open and the Alcatel Firefox OS phone to YouTube.
Both devices appear to be low-end if compared to recent Android and iOS releases, but one has to take into consideration that Firefox OS based phones will certainly be a lot cheaper than those powerful devices, and that it is the first release version of the operating system. Things will get better with software updates and next generation releases. If anyone can still remember how Android started out, this is similar to that with the difference that Mozilla aims for emerging markets first.
A better comparison would be to pit a Firefox OS phone against a popular phone used in one of the launch countries.
Now read: Test Firefox OS on your desktop.
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