September 21, 2012

Firefox OS-powered Handset to be Launched in First Quarter by ZTE

ZTE (NewsAlert) Corporation, the Chinese multinational telecommunications giant, has confirmed that it will be releasing a smartphone that runs on Mozilla’s completely open–source HTML5 based Firefox OS (called Boot to Gecko (B2G)) by the first quarter of 2013. ZTE will be one of the first manufacturers to do so.

ZTE is the world’s fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer in terms of records of unit sales of year 2011 and the world’s fifth-largest telecoms equipment maker by 2011 revenue. The company is head quartered in Shenzhen, China.

The executive vice-president of ZTE, He Shiyou (NewsAlert), confirmed this news to the Wall Street Journal. Shiyou indicated that plans were afoot in the company to deliver handsets running Firefox OS to the customers before April 2013.

The company works with both Windows and Android platforms. Firefox OS will be ZTE’s third platform. ZTE will also be launching a Windows Phone (NewsAlert) 8 – powered handset later on in the year 2013. However, the exact release date was not disclosed by Mr. Shiyou.

Mozilla’s director of research, Andreas Gal and Mozilla’s co-founder and the inventor of JavaScript at MWC, Brendan Eich, shared their thoughts about the dynamics in current mobile space. Gal was critical of Google’s Android platform as he felt it was like Apple’s (News Alert) iOS; essentially a walled-garden.

Gal said that like Apple, Android is not an open source. Google builds Android not for the user’s benefit but for Google’s benefit and the shareholders that it has to satisfy. He added that Mozilla is very unlike Android (NewsAlert) or Apple as they were a not-for-profit organization.

He further added that in the past Mozilla was all about making the Web better, but now people are turning to mobile, and naturally they are following them. Gal claimed that what they had developed is a completely open stack that is 100 percent free. He also added that they have a publicly visible repository and all the development happens in the open and there is no propriety software or technology involved.

Eich felt that the days of native shells, such as iOS and Android and other proprietary software such as Objective-C, could soon be over as Mozilla continues to standardize and implement Open Web APIs that will one day eradicate the need for separate platforms. He also claimed that this would allow users to find and use apps on their mobiles without having to opt into a privately owned platform. He added that separate platforms are no longer a necessity, once you have the correct standardization and inter-operation.

The specifications of the Firefox OS-powered ZTE phone (B2G) are not out yet but most likely it will ship with a Qualcomm chipset. ZTE, Qualcomm, and TCL are Mozilla’s confirmed Firefox OS partners for now but in due time several others more are expected to join. The brief demo at MWC 2012 confirmed that the platform is impressive and is completely based on open –web standards. The markets are eagerly waiting to see more from Firefox OS as exciting times certainly await us all.

Want to learn more about HTML5? Then be sure to attend HTML5 Summit- a DEVCON5 Event, collocated with ITEXPO West 2012 taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX.  Stay in touch with everything happening at HTML Summit. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman


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