We had reported earlier about Mozilla announcing its own operating system for smartphones, Firefox OS, and now we’ve got more information about what this new OS has to offer. The head of Telefonica O2 Europe recently stated that this OS, dubbed as Boot to Gecko, is as good as Android, in addition to being cheaper. While speaking at the Telefonica Digital conference in London, CEO Matthew Key was keen to point out that the majority of handsets in the market are overly relying on Google’s operating system and he has encouraged other networks to join O2 and its partners to give the project a much needed boost. “The first handset cost is sub-$100 and will be launched before Q1 in Brazil. We can produce the same experience on Android cheaper, or a better experience at the same price,” he said.

Now that is definitely an interesting price tag for a phone, but no specific details have been provided on the specs of the handset. We’re hoping it’s nothing less than what the average droid has on board. Taking into account the end-user perspective, he also went on to point out the fragmentation issues that most of us are facing as most smartphones are not eligible for a software update if it's been a while since their launch.

Will be featured on handsets by 2013

Will be featured on handsets by 2013

For those not in the know, this operating system is aimed at powering smartphones built entirely on open Web standards, where all of the device’s features can be developed as HTML5 applications. The Firefox OS for mobile devices is built on Mozilla’s “Boot to Gecko” project, which unlocks many of the current limitations of web development on mobile, allowing HTML5 applications to access the underlying capabilities of a phone that were previously only available to native applications. Telefónica’s Digital unit had partnered with Mozilla early this year to take up this work and showcase a new phone architecture where every phone feature like calling, messaging, games, etc. is an HTML5 application.

During the unveiling, Mozilla stated: “Mapping to key Firefox footprints around the globe, leading operators such as Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Telenor are backing the open Firefox OS as an exciting new entrant to the smartphone marketplace. They have also identified the potential of the technology to deliver compelling smartphone experiences at attainable prices.” 

Mozilla claims that due to the optimization of the platform for entry-level smartphones and the removal of unnecessary middleware layers, mobile operators will have the ability to offer richer experiences at a range of price points, including at the low-end of the smartphone price range; helping drive adoption across developing markets. Mozilla and other participants are committed to ensuring the project is fully open and the reference implementation of the required Web APIs is being submitted to W3C for standardization.

While all of this sounds really good, the key threats the company is facing is that of having mammoth competitors to face. New platforms have been launched time and again, but not many are successful and a lot of them have been shelved mid-way. “We don't underestimate the size of the task,” Key acknowledged. “There have been many new OSes launched and most have them have failed.”

Well, it seems 2013 will be an interesting year for Mozilla.

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