Mozilla says it has the support of a number of carriers and smartphone manufacturers to start shipping phones running on Firefox’s new mobile operating system. Sprint in the United States is a backer as well as Deutsche Telekom and hardware vendors ZTE and TCL Communication Technology. Mozilla hopes to have the first Firefox-based handsets shipping by early 2013.
The new Firefox OS won’t take the same approach that competitors iOS and Android have when it comes to apps. While the latter two platforms focus on native apps that require extra work for the developer and possibly inconsistent user experiences, Firefox OS apps will be written entirely in HTML5. They’ll be full mobile web apps that act in a native way.
Choosing to ride the HTML5 wave forward means it’ll be far easier to develop apps for Firefox OS than iOS or Android and many won’t be very different — if not completely identical — to mobile apps currently accessible via web browser.
The eventual debut of the Firefox OS is vital to continue driving mobile innovation because it looks to be a very worthy competitor. When Android launched as the first and only viable alternative to iOS, it was obviously destined to rise to success. With more competition, it’ll be more clear to consumers which platform is truly the superior one.
“Manufacturer and operator commitment is essential to driving developer support and consumer interest which in turn strengthens demand for the platform,” said analyst Geoff Blaber of CCS Insight. That would put Mozilla’s Firefox OS in a pretty good starting position for now.