Mozilla has been making some small moves into mobile with the Firefox browser for Android, but today the company announced much bigger plans: Firefox OS, previously known as “Boot to Gecko,” is an entirely new operating system for smartphones. The OS will be based on Linux, but all apps will be entirely browser-based, built on HTML5, like Google’s Chrome OS.
It’s a surprisingly well-planned announcement; Mozilla is already several steps into the process, having already lined up hardware and network partners. The hardware will be made by Chinese company TCL, which here in the States makes things under the RCA brand, and ZTE, which makes mostly low-end phones, and will include Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. On the network side, they’re working with Sprint, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and more. Given the choice of hardware partners, I’d expect the Firefox phones to be aimed more at the low-end market, perhaps especially in developing nations.
It’s ridiculously difficult to gain a foothold in the smartphone OS world–just ask Microsoft–but a browser-based solution could be made cheaply and easily. We’ll see how well the Firefox OS works; Mozilla says the first devices to use the OS will appear in Brazil next year. You can read the full press release here.