Sprint and a consortium of international carriers have announced their support for yet another smartphone operating system set to be released next year in the Boot to Gecko project, now operating under the more consumer and marketing friendly name Firefox OS, reflecting the expanded scope. Sprint joins new carrier partners Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, Telenor, Etisalat, and Smart.
The goal of the project is to target rapidly-growing international emerging markets with smartphones that are 2-4x cheaper than current devices while maintaining or exceeding current device performance with a new operating system based around key features of HTML5. While the project was initially announced during MWC and featured Spain’s Telefonica Group as its main partner, the partnership has now been expanded to ensure viability across different parts of the industry.
The new announcement today also includes the first hardware partners, as ZTE Corp. and TCL under the Alcatel One brand have committed to manufacture Firefox OS devices with Qualcomm providing its now ubiquitous Snapdragon series of processors to underpin both the operating system and hardware, ensuring the economies of scale necessary to hit both the expected price and performance targets for the new project.
While many are questioning the viability of the operating system in the current climate owing to the popularity of iOS and Android, manufacturers are still looking for alternatives that are unencumbered by patent issues, being that Android is currently subject to such obstacles despite being free to license as well as providing an alternative that addresses many developer concerns regarding open development. The first devices will be released in Brazil during 2013 with no word on a US release at this time.