Not long after formally announcing its intention to work with Mozilla on a new mobile platform, Spanish telecom conglomerate Telefonica has opened up and provided more information regarding its goals for the nascent platform, which has recently received additional support from Deutsche Telekom and Sprint as well as Chinese manufacturers ZTE and ACL. Along with the increased support, Qualcomm has built reference devices showcasing what the finished hardware will look like when the first handsets are released next year.
One of the main goals for the new initiative according to Telefonica is ironically the biggest reason that it has partnered with Mozilla in the fact that it wants to get away from relying too heavily on Android even though Mozilla’s biggest benefactor is Google. While the statement may be seen as silly at face value, the recent issues that the Android platform has been faced with in recent months have given enough for carriers and manufacturers to think about when considering additional Android devices, as well as the desire to regain control of both hardware and software from manufacturers without regressing to the days of poor Java support and even worse support for BREW MP.
To do this, Telefonica is banking on the inherent openness of Mozilla OS and its HTML5 base as the draw for software developers to support the platform even as Android and iOS continue to dominate the mid-range and high-end market. With the hardware hitting a price target of $100, the combination of carrier and chipmaker support may be enough to convince developers that Mozilla OS is worth supporting, even with the transparent goals of Telefonica to wrest control back from Android. The first devices will be launched next year in Brazil on Telefonica partner carrier Vivo and cost the equivalent of $100 US dollars.
Deutsche Telekom for its part has committed to releasing Mozilla OS powered devices in its Eastern European markets, while Sprint has yet to officially comment on the extent of its support for the initiative, though it is expected that it will replace feature phones with Firefox OS devices and offer those for free on contract while relegating Android to the more expensive mid and high-end range next to the iPhone.
It should be noted that this initiative resembles aspects of both webOS and the early intentions for iOS, but Telefonica is assuring skeptics that Firefox OS will allow for all of the expected core functionality of smartphone while being tied to HTML5 as the base by allowing developers access to the core APIs necessary for native functionality. Telefonica claims that this method will allow it to remain open and developer friendly while still allowing the carrier some method of direct control over what gets offered by the carrier as an added value, rather than the current model of ignoring and pushing carriers to the side that is found with Android and iOS, which has caused consternation for carriers around the world.