Sprint vows support for Mozilla's Firefox mobile OS
Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has pledged to support Mozilla's HTML5-based Firefox mobile operating system, which is scheduled to reach consumers early next year.
Sprint is one of seven operators now backing the open-source Firefox OS, previously known under the working title of Boot to Gecko: Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Telecom Italia and Telenor also announced they will support the platform. They join Telefónica, which was the first carrier to officially sign on with Mozilla back in February. Telefónica is scheduled to begin selling Firefox-powered smartphones in Brazil in early 2013 through its Vivo unit; the devices will be priced in the same range as feature phones.
"Firefox Mobile OS can help us drive an HTML5-based platform for creating lower-cost smartphone options for prepaid, postpaid and wholesale customers," said Fared Adib, Sprint's product chief.
Mozilla said Monday that manufacturers TCL Communication Technology (under the Alcatel One Touch brand) and ZTE have agreed to produce smartphones running the Firefox OS, integrating Snapdragon system-on-a-chip processors from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). Last week, Qualcomm issued version 1.0 of its Snapdragon SDK, enabling developers to access imaging, audio and location capabilities built into the Snapdragon S4 8960 processor.
Mozilla first announced the Boot to Gecko initiative last year, promising a new phone architecture that relies entirely on the Web to enable HTML5 applications with complete access to core device APIs. At launch, researcher Andreas Gal explained Mozilla would seek to "find the gaps that keep web developers from being able to build apps that are--in every way--the equals of native apps built for the iPhone, Android and [Windows Phone]." Mozilla vice president of technical strategy Mike Shaver stated the organization would integrate elements of Android into the Firefox OS, but added "We intend to use as little of Android as possible."
Mozilla is now accepting submissions for its Mozilla Marketplace app storefront, targeting a consumer launch sometime later this year. Mozilla Marketplace enables developers to create and distribute cross-platform applications optimized for any HTML5-enabled device, regardless of operating system. Mozilla Marketplace is part of the Mozilla Web Apps platform, which includes new Mozilla-proposed web APIs that will be submitted to the W3C for standardization as well as a new digital identity system that gives users control over their content by tying apps to the consumer instead of the device or platform.
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