Geeksphone Firefox OS phones now available
Spanish company Geeksphone is now selling the Firefox OS smartphones it unveiled at Mobile World Congress. The company's Keon and Peak phones are aimed at developers and are designated "developer previews". With the phones, users can download Firefox OS nightly builds over the air.
Both phones are fully equipped smartphones with telephony functionality, a UMTS module and cameras. The two phones may be of general interest to users with an appetite for experimentation, particularly as orders from the company can be shipped to the UK; major network operators are not initially expected to release Firefox devices in Europe.
The Peak is available for $194 (approximately £127), runs on a dual-core 1.2 Ghz Snapdragon S4 8225 CPU from Qualcomm, and is equipped with UMTS/HSPA, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1. The 4.3" IPS display offers qHD resolution and the device has 8 megapixel rear and 2 megapixel front cameras. According to Geeksphone, the phone comes with 4GB ROM and 512MB RAM. MicroSD cards can be used to add additional memory for applications and data.
The smaller Keon is available for $119 (£78) and runs on a 1 GHz Snapdragon S1 7225AB processor. It has a 3.5" HVGA display and a 3 megapixel camera.
18 mobile phone companies announced plans to support Firefox OS at Mobile World Congress. Two of Europe's largest network operators, Germany's Deutsche Telekom and Spanish mobile operator Telefónica, have thrown their weight behind the open source operating system. The first Firefox smartphones should be available from network operators from the summer. Firefox OS is very undemanding on hardware and is therefore able to run on relatively low cost devices. The Mozilla Foundation also recently announced an open payment system for Firefox OS.
Andreas Gal, Vice President for Mobile Engineering at Mozilla, is keen to point out that Firefox OS also runs fluidly on devices which are unable to run Android. The Mozilla Foundation is attempting to establish Firefox OS as a direct resource-friendly alternative to Android in particular.
Firefox OS may increase competition in the areas of operating systems and app stores in the Android and iOS-dominated smartphone market. The duopoly of Apple and Google is, according to Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs: "a broken model and it needs to change". He added: "we want to level the playing field." With the exception of open systems such as the Geeksphone devices, this will, however, initially apply only to carriers and network operators. Firefox OS gives mobile phone companies a system which is easily adapted to their requirements, including a marketplace under their control.
At the time of writing, Geeksphone had already sold out of their original stock of the Keon phone, but Peak devices were still available.