Mozilla partners with Telefónica for first Boot to Gecko smartphones
BARCELONA, Spain--Telefónica is the first operator to officially pledge support for open-source software initiative Mozilla's fledgling Boot to Gecko open web mobile operating system, the two companies announced here at Mobile World Congress 2012.
Telefónica and Mozilla will jointly launch the Open Web Devices platform and corresponding smartphones later in 2012, promising a new phone architecture that relies entirely on the web to enable HTML5 applications with complete access to core device APIs. The firms state that all device capabilities including calling, messaging, browsing and gaming can be developed as HTML5 applications and executed via experiences based on Mozilla's Firefox browser.
Telefónica and Mozilla will develop OWD devices on a hardware platform based on Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) chipset, vowing to deliver smartphone capabilities at feature phone entry-level pricing. According to Telefónica, its R&D team first began working on the OWD concept at the beginning of 2011, completing work on a prototype to show to potential partners; after Mozilla announced the Boot to Gecko initiative at mid-year, the companies began working together.
"We looked for partners in terms of carriers and manufacturers," Mozilla senior director of Firefox engineering Johnathan Nightingale told FierceMobileContent. "We wanted to make sure we fully understood the challenges facing the mobile space." Reports last week indicating that Mozilla also would announce a Boot to Gecko agreement with LG Electronics have not yet come to fruition.
When Mozilla first announced Boot to Gecko last year, researcher Andreas Gal explained that the initiative will "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 will integrate elements of Android in Boot to Gecko, but added "We intend to use as little of Android as possible, in fact. Really, we want to use the kernel + drivers, plus libc and ancillary stuff. It's not likely that we'll use the Android Java-wrapped graphics APIs, for example."
Mozilla is now accepting developer 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.
News of Mozilla Marketplace first surfaced via Mozilla's 2012 roadmap. In the document, Mozilla principal product manager Ragavan Srinivasan cites a series of challenges the current app ecosystem poses for developers, including increased investment in building, maintaining, distributing and marketing apps optimized for each native platform; loss of control over customer relationships, update frequencies and technologies; and fragmentation of the consumer base. "Mozilla believes that the web is *the* platform and the entire web should be your marketplace," Srinivasan writes.
Mozilla Marketplace also promises to bring app monetization tools. "Using our payment solution, developers will be able to enable 1-click experiences for common transactions such as buying a premium app, in-app payments, subscriptions and more," Srinivasan explains. "Users will have the ability to choose from a variety of payment methods as the year progresses."
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