Word emerged a couple of months back that Mozilla was partnering with Alcatel and ZTE for its Firefox Mobile OS project. Now, Reuters is reporting that work on Mozilla’s smartphone operating system is further along than most people might have anticipated. ZTE is gearing up to release a Firefox powered phone either this year or early next year.
Firefox Mobile OS, which was previously known as Boot to Gecko, is a bold and ambitious project by Mozilla to provide a web-technology based smartphone operating system. ZTE currently manufactures a host of Android smartphones whose primary selling point is competent hardware at an attractive price point. It also has several Windows Phone devices under the Tania brand name. The surprising move to collaborate with Mozilla to introduce another smartphone operating system is simply an attempt to diversify. “We are trying to increase our efforts in coming up with our own operating system, while introducing products based on Android,” said ZTE spokesman David Dai Shu.”It’s all part of our wider plans to create a better balance of products using various operating systems. We won’t just rely on Android or Windows.”
It’s hard not to be skeptical of Mozilla’s attempts given the current hyper-competitive state of smartphone ecosystems. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android were the early movers, and they have managed to build a flourishing ecosystem that Microsoft, even with its deep pocket and close partnership with A-league manufacturers like Nokia, is struggling with compete against. Mozilla neither has a deep pocket, nor pre-existing relationships with device manufacturers, carriers, and developers. I will be following the development of Firefox Mobile OS closely, but I will be more than surprised if it actually succeeds.