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Firefox OS will debut in U.S. in 2014, Sony and Telefonica announce partnership to develop for the OS

News by Andrew Kameka on Monday February 25, 2013.

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Mozilla Firefox OS, the web-based smartphone operating system developed by the same folks responsible for the popular Firefox web browser, will not challenge the likes of Android and Apple iOS until 2014. Firefox OS will instead ignite first in a handful of countries in Europe and Latin America.

At its Mobile World Congress press conference, Mozilla revealed that Firefox OS will first appear on Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered smartphones developed by Alcatel, Huawei, LG, and ZTE. Today, Sony and Telefonica announced that Sony is also exploring a possible launch of a Firefox OS smartphone. Bob Ishida, deputy CEO and head of Products Business Group at Sony Mobile said:

"At Sony Mobile we continue to evaluate innovative technologies that can help deliver the premium user experiences that Sony's consumers expect. Our engineers are now working with Firefox OS Mobile and HTML5, evolving technologies which show great potential. In addition, we continue to work with our operator partners, including Telefónica, on a development project with an ambition to bring a product to market in 2014."

Ishida's comments are not confirmation that Sony will definitely release a Firefox phone, but it shows a clear intention to develop a phone that could be released next year. His comments are also a boost to Mozilla's hopes that its OS will find a place in a market where several companies struggle to compete with Apple and Samsung.

Mozilla won't wait until next year to launch Firefox OS; it revealed yesterday that individual carriers will "soon" announce the availability of Firefox OS phones in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.

Absent from the list of launch countries are the larger smartphone markets in China, the U.S., and most of Western Europe; however, that's only because those countries will not appear in the first wave of devices. Mozilla says that it has made agreements with Deutsche Telekom, China Unicom, Three, Sprint, Telefonica, and other companies that operate in the bigger markets. Firefox will first launch in emerging markets, followed by an another round of markets later this year. Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs doesn't expect Firefox to launch in the U.S. until "somewhere in the 2014 timeframe" according to comments made in a Q&A session, and Sony's decision shows some of the larger manufacturers may wait until then as well.

Why the long wait? Shouldn't the companies behind Firefox be feverishly trying to take on Android, BlackBerry 10, iOS, and Windows Phone 8 before it's too late? Yes, but it can't win that battle in the U.S. right now, so the long wait in the U.S. isn't surprising. Mozilla wants Firefox OS to be its way of bringing the web to more people who may not want to spend great sums of money on a smartphone, and the OS won't be mature enough to compete in the high-end smartphone arena. That's evident from Mozilla's past statements and the first Firefox OS phones being entry-level devices. Firefox phones have a better chance of success in its first markets, and an extra year of development on the OS and HTML5 advancements might help make a better first impression when Firefox OS makes its U.S. debut.

source: Mozilla

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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