Built entirely using HTML5 and other open Web standards, Firefox OS is a Linux-based open source operating system for smartphones and tablet computers. It has been demonstrated on Android smartphones and the Raspberry Pi.
The ZTE Open (above), may be the world’s first Firefox OS Smartphone. It will launch with carrier Telefónica in Spain, Venezuela, and Colombia in mid-2013. The ZTE Open is an entry-level smartphone with a 1GHz processor, 3.5-inch touch-screen display, a 3.2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, assisted GPS, and 512MB ROM.
Alcatel’s One Touch Fire has a 3.5-inch screen and 1GHz processor with a 3.2-megapixel rear-facing camera, 256MB of RAM, and 512MB of storage, expandable with an SD card.
At Mobile World Congress, Mozilla announced Firefox OS and has expanded its range of handset partners, bringing aboard LG and Huawei. Mozilla already had Alcatel and ZTE aboard, but the Korean smartphone maker has joined the line-up, with Huawei also committing to the OS in emerging markets.
The first smartphones running Firefox OS should be released in the first half of 2013 (expecting July, 2013). It will first be released in South America, and will later come to Asian and European markets. It will be joined by the Firefox Marketplace for applications.
Mozilla’s Director of Research Andreas Gal characterised the current set of mobile OS pages as “walled gardens”. “We use completely open standards and there’s no proprietary software or technology involved.” Gal also said because the software stack is entirely HTML5 there are already a large number of established developers.
Other commentators have described it as an “idealistic thought experiment” and suggested that it will be difficult for Firefox OS to make headway in a crowded market.
Firefox OS is entirely open source and Mozilla is offering the software completely free to its OEM partners. The software is still in beta phase with no official release scheduled for a few months.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s Tizen got its first official unveiling at Mobile World Congress. Shepherded into development by Samsung Electronics and Intel, the Tizen project resides within the Linux Foundation and is governed by a Technical Steering Group composed of Intel and Samsung.
Orange and NTT Docomo plan to “commercialize” Tizen devices, the Tizen Association said from the Mobile World Congress show. The organization additionally announced plans to launch a Tizen Store “later this year” that will offer “thousands of apps.”
Ubuntu Touch, developed by Canonical is set to be available to the public in October. Manufacturers are yet to be confirmed, but you can try the software right now on selected Google Nexus devices. Ubuntu Touch supports the open and increasingly popular standard HTML5. Web apps that work online should work on Ubuntu — so even though there’s no official app store yet, Ubuntu already has access to HTML5 apps including big names like Facebook, Twitter, and Evernote.