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
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.
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.
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.
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.