Mozilla Firefox OS Tries to Compete with the Apple iOS, Google Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone, ZTE Note and Alcatel One Touch Fire Now On Sale

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By Lawrence Fernandez | July 3, 2013 11:24 AM EST

For so long, Mozilla's bread and butter were the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird electronic message host. However, the smartphone operating system market proves to be a lucrative one that they have launched the Firefox OS to compete with the likes of Google Android, Apple iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone.

Appearing first at the last Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the Mozilla Firefox OS is a web-based system that is adherent to the latest standards. This means that applications can be exported to this operating system because most of which have web-based versions. Essentially, the functions and applications of the Firefox OS are like web pages that can be customised to fit a user's preference.

The Mozilla Firefox OS will be the operating system of two low-end smartphones, the Alcatel One Touch Fire and the ZTE Open. The latter will be first offered in Spain via Telefonica, starting July 2013 for 69 euro. This initial sale price includes a 30-euro prepaid credit and a four-gigabyte MicroSD card. The Open has a 3.5-inch screen with a 1gHz Snapdragon processor, 256 MB RAM, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, a global positioning system device and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

At an event at the Mozilla office in San Francisco, California, co-founder Brendan Eich said that the ZTE Open will be the first smartphone that purely runs on open Web standards. Although the Web facilitates most of the phone's functions, some key features like the dialer can work offline. However, he added that they are not trying to compete with tech giants such as Apple Inc. and Google in the smartphone operating system niche.

Eich explains that the Firefox OS will target feature phone users who simply want a mode of communication that is not measured in screen size, high-powered processors and a litany of features. After the program, the Mashable team had a chance to tinker with the system's two feature phones and they gave fair results.

In a passable period of time, the team was able to take pictures, view the photo gallery and check the applications available with the operating system. However, the data connection for the phones during the event came from wireless routers which makes connection times slow. Still, the testers were able to perform relatively data-heavy functions such as play a game and browse the Internet.

The Firefox Mozilla OS is facilitated by a Gecko-based runtime engine that allows applications written in HTML and Javascript languages to operate. The OS is also compatible with other systems like the Otoro, Panda Board, Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy Nexus. Developers are already working on the system's version 1.2.0 which is known under the code name Koi. Their feature phones are nowhere near the capabilities of the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Yet, they are for consumers who are satisfied with having any mobile phone.

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