updated 04:50 pm EDT, Fri July 6, 2012
Firefox OS said to run similar apps faster than Android
Telefónica has been showing off a prototype phone running Mozilla's recently revealed Firefox OS for smartphones. The Spanish telecom gave TechWeekEurope UK a peek at the prototype device, saying that it's well positioned to make an impact in the mobile sector among developing markets.
The prototype shown off by Telefónica looks similar to any number of other smartphones powered by Google's Android system, with a touchscreen and four capacitive buttons at the bottom. Telefónica representatives said that Firefox OS will run on the same hardware seen in current Android phones. Since the OS is lighter and less demanding of processors, Firefox should run faster on the same hardware and give a comparable experience on cheaper systems.
The prototype was developed in partnership with Qualcomm, already named as one of Mozilla's partners for the platform. Apps on the platform will be built entirely in HTML5. Telefónica's representatives said that the HTML5 underpinnings will make it easier to port apps from Android or iOS to Firefox OS, as 75 percent of apps built for those platforms are already HTML5 based. The strength of the Mozilla brand and community are also thought to be considerable draws for developers.
Rolling out a line of smartphones based on Mozilla's platform would have the added effect of decreasing Telefónica's dependence on Google. The company views this as a development that would be good for the telecom industry and encourages other service providers and manufacturers to support Mozilla's OS as well. Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telefica, Telecom Italia, and Telenor are already on board as Mozilla partners. Alcatel and ZTE will be manufacturing the first Firefox OS devices. The first Firefox OS phones from Telefónica are expected to debut next year in Brazil, bearing Telefónica's Vivo brand. They are expected to cost less than $100.