Mozilla unveils first Firefox OS phones

Mozilla announces backing from four major handset manufacturers and 18 global operators for its fledgling Firefox OS, but they won't arrive in the UK until 2014

Mozilla has announced the first raft of smartphone hardware to run its Firefox mobile OS at a launch event on the eve of MWC 2013 in Barcelona.

It will debut on handsets from four major manufacturers - ZTE, Huawei, LG and Alcatel - with "many more manufacturers to come", according to Mozilla's Jay Sullivan.

The new operating system, which will be based largely on open web standards such as HTML 5, was originally introduced to the media at last year's show as Boot to Gecko, and then renamed in the summer of 2012 to Firefox OS.

Instead of taking the closed, "walled garden" approach, Mozilla hopes to encourage open app development, with software available not only from Mozilla's own Firefox Marketplace, but also directly from developers' websites.

"We're not looking to develop a new ecosystem, we're going to leverage the millions of developers all over the world that are already developing," said Sullivan.

ZTE Open - the first Firefox OS phone

The new phones will principally be targeted at emerging markets, and will be extremely cheap. The ZTE Open, demo units of which were on show at the event, will come in at sub-$100 (under £70), offering a low-cost option to those unable to currently afford a smartphone.

As such, the new handsets will appear first in eastern European and south American countries such as Poland, Hungary, Columbia, Mexico and Brazil, before coming to the UK and Western Europe.

They will arrive in these countries in the second quarter this year. However, according to a Firefox spokesman, UK consumers are unlikely to see them before 2014.

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