Firefox OS

Mozilla’s Firefox OS – What to Expect

Mozilla recently announced their partnership with Geeksphone and Telefonica to introduce two developer handsets, the Keon and Peak, operating under their Firefox mobile OS. Mozilla does not have plans to release any hardware of its own, but the handsets developed by Geeksphone are planned to ship out to developers within the next month.

It has also been reported that the Japanese carrier KDDI is considering bringing devices to market with Mozilla’s Firefox OS. The report comes from a comment made by KDDI’s CEO Takashi Tanaka following an HTML5 Study Group in Tokyo.

So what can developers hope for in these devices and where can we expect to see them? Let’s take a look.

 

Geeksphone Developer Handsets – The Specs

Firefox OS
Geeksphone Keon running Firefox OS

The Keon handset has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 1 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 4 GB of ROM. Not much, but all that is required to run Firefox’s mobile OS – and what is needed to be successful in a developing market. Not too much and not too little. The device also has a 3.5″ HVGA multitouch screen, 3 MP camera, microSD slot, and a 1580 mAh battery.

 

Firefox OS
Geeksphone Peak running Firefox OS 

A step up, the Peak handset sports a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.2 GHz processor and again, 512 MB of RAM, and 4 GB of ROM. Also included with this top-tier developer device is a 4.3″ qHD IPS multitouch screen, an 8 MP camera on the back with flash, a 2 MP camera on the front, and a larger 1800 mAh battery.

Both devices are 3G HSPA and 2G EDGE compatible and include microSD slots, 802.11n wireless networking, accelerometers, light and proximity sensors, and microUSB connections.

 

Firefox OS

This is still the Boot to Gecko (B2G) OS, but with another UI layer added for interactive design simplicity. From a consumer perspective, the Firefox OS has a familiar smartphone user interface (UI). No new surprises. Out of the box – so to speak – you’ll find expected generic applications. It is of course a base for developers after all. The home screen provides the user with options to either take a picture or unlock the device. Just like any other mobile OS, it offers a standard set of features including custom applications, games, music, telephony features, text messaging, video support, and camera support.

It’s an open-source operating system – developers take note! The HTML5 and open web technologies allow the OS to run smoothly on low-cost platforms, and applications developed for HTML5 can be utilized on a wide range of consumer devices – a very good variable for potential growth.

 

Wrap Up

Here’s some highlights of the Firefox OS and what it’s bringing to the mobile market:

  • Deep Facebook and Twitter integration
  • Greater responsiveness and speed than other Android OSs due to its global support of HTML5
  • Low cost platform with Telefonica’s first Firefox OS handset reported to have a MSRP of less than $100
  • Will be released in S. America before hitting other markets; Preliminary market research was focused in Brazil
  • HTML5 development opportunities
  • No substantial UI design changes compared to existing platforms (good, or bad?)

As of right now the device is only available to developers, but with the recent partnership announcements and KDDI’s interest in the OS, it looks like we could begin seeing these devices in developing markets and potentially on an even larger scale with KDDI’s approximately 36 million subscribers. Lots of potential here, definitely something to keep an eye on.

Chase Williams

Chase is a serial entrepreneur, electrical engineer, writer, and self-proclaimed techie. He enjoys to travel, hike, kayak, and learn new languages. He's been weightless on-board a NASA C9-B aircraft and his head hasn't quite come back down from the upper atmosphere. To keep up with his low-oxygen chatter, follow him on Twitter @ChaseHWill

  • Facebook User

    Great article! It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Firefox OS. It being a real player in the big markets is going to be a tall order with the massive head start that iOS and Android have. But in emerging markets, it’s anyone’s game.

    And truthfully, I’m not so sure that iOS and Android are going to be the only two mobile OS’s anyone talks about. At least, not anymore. Windows Phone is a legitimately great alternative, Blackberry 10… well, it could work. It looks nice, at least! And Samsung (the biggest Android handset maker) is about to start releasing a bunch of new phones with Tizen (formerly Meego). We’ll see.