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25 February 2013, 12:18

Broad support for Firefox OS at Mobile World Congress

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Firefox OS carrier announcement
Zoom Mozilla gathered several CEOs from industry leading network providers for their announcement, including Deutsche Telekom's René Obermann

Ahead of the official start of Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Mozilla has announced partners for its Firefox OS platform for mobile devices. Numerous leading network operators announced their support for the operating system on Sunday. Mozilla also announced the partner line-up for its Firefox Marketplace, the app store included with the operating system.

With René Obermann of Deutsche Telekom and Cesar Alierta of Telefónica, two major European mobile network operators are backing the new smartphone operating system that is based on HTML5 and JavaScript. US carrier Sprint, Telecom Italia, Portugal Telecom and Norway's Telenor are also on board. The biggest Latin American mobile network provider, America Movil, and China Unicom round out the impressive total of 18 supporters. Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacz summarised what makes Firefox OS so interesting for these carriers: competition in the areas of operating systems and app stores can only be good for a smartphone market that has been controlled by Android and iOS. Kovacz described the Apple and Google duopoly as: "a broken model that must be changed."

"I wish the Mozilla team every success", said René Obermann. Deutsche Telekom plans to introduce the Alcatel One Touch Fire, Europe's first Firefox OS smartphone, in the Polish market this summer. Among hardware manufacturers, Alcatel, ZTE, Huawei and LG have announced their support along with first devices. ZTE unveiled its Firefox OS smartphone, called the ZTE Open, at Mobile World Congress today.

Among the companies that have announced their support for Mozilla's Firefox Marketplace are AccuWeather, Airbnb, Box, Cut the Rope, Disney Mobile Games, EA, Facebook, Nokia's mapping service HERE, MTV Brasil, Pulse News, SoundCloud, SporTV, Terra, Time Out and Twitter. Disney, for example, is planning to offer its popular "Where's My Water?" game on the marketplace. The Firefox OS Marketplace offers an open platform for applications that are based on standards such as HTML5 and JavaScript.

Firefox OS Marketplace presentation
Zoom Mozilla presents its Marketplace for Firefox OS at MWC

An email client as well as a music editor and an image editor were showcased at Mozilla's announcement to demonstrate the versatility of Firefox OS. Mozilla emphasises that anyone who has previously developed web applications can adapt their apps for Firefox OS devices with little effort – and that they will gain access to smartphone capabilities such as the acceleration sensor and GPS data via Mozilla's programming interfaces in the process. Payment for commercial apps and content will be handled via the mobile network providers, said the company.

In the run-up to Mobile World Congress, Mozilla hosted a series of developer events aimed at generating enthusiasm for Firefox OS among programmers. With WIPJam, Mozilla will host another developer day at MWC. Session presenters who will answer questions from developers will include Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich and developer evangelist Robert Nyman.

A first impression of the Firefox Marketplace can be gained with Firefox for Android Aurora and the Firefox OS simulator that is available as an add-on for the Firefox desktop browser; a Boilerplate App that helps developers get started writing applications for the platform is also available. First smartphones with Firefox OS are planned to become available "later this year".


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