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First Firefox OS smartphone hits market

New mobile operating system aims to fill need for 'unconstrained' platform

First Firefox OS smartphone hits market
(Left to right): Mitchell Baker and Jay Sullivan of Mozilla, Carlos Domingo, Telefonica; Xiao Ming, ZTE, and Carlos Melendo, Telefonica.

The first smartphones powered by Mozilla's open source Firefox OS will be launched on 2 July.

Spanish operator Telefonica will release the first Firefox OS device, ZTE Open, on Monday, the telco said. German operator Deutsche Telekom is due to launch another Firefox OS smartphone, the Alcatel One Touch Fire, soon.

On its website, Mozilla said that other partners would reveal more details of the launch of Firefox OS devices soon.

The Firefox mobile OS project was revealed by Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs in February at Mobile World Congress, in Bareclona.

With more than 20 hardware and operator partners around the world, Firefox OS is "filling the need" for an adaptable, unconstrained mobile platform to deliver a customisable mobile Web experience, according to Mozilla.

"Firefox OS smartphones are the first devices powered completely by Web technologies and offer everything you expect from a smartphone while also delivering new features to give you a personal experience that is unmatched by any other phone," Mozilla said in a blog post.

Firefox OS includes messaging, email, camera, built-in social features with Facebook and Twitter, HERE Maps, the Firefox Web browser and the Firefox Marketplace app store.

"The launch of Firefox OS marks an incredibly exciting time for the Web. Firefox OS powers the first smartphones built entirely on Web technologies and will stimulate an inspiring new wave of innovation for the Web," Jay Sullivan, chief operating officer, Mozilla, said.

"We are proud to deliver an experience for first-time smartphone users that will delight them and really put the power of the Web in people's hands."

Speaking about the launch of ZTE Open, Luis Miguel Gilpérez, CEO of Telefónica España, said: "We believe that smartphones need to be more open and that the Web is the platform for making this possible. Consumers should not be locked to any one system but have the choice to consume the content they want and the flexibility to be able to take it with them when they change devices. This first open Web device marks a significant milestone in making this possible. This is just the beginning as we plan to bring a wide range of Firefox OS devices to our customers."

John Jackson, research vice president, IDC, said that operators, OEMs, and developers are becoming increasingly interested in the emergence of a "truly viable alternative mobile platform" that is independent of "today's incumbents".

"Such a platform will have to meet challenging requirements in terms of robustness, scale, and openness," Jackson said. "Mozilla and its partners are now moving definitively into the first wave of Firefox OS distribution. One of our recent surveys found Firefox OS to be more compelling to developers over Tizen, Blackberry and Kindle Fire, despite no commercial products being available yet. It is clear that influential members of the operator, OEM, and developer communities at both global and hyper-local levels see the potential of Mozilla's Firefox OS to be that next platform."

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