alling all gadget nerds: Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox web browser, is working on a new mobile OS to go toe-to-toe with the smartphone establishment of iOS and Android. Firefox OS, as they're calling it, will be built using open web standards, which Devindra Hardawar at VentureBeat calls Mozilla's "big selling point for the platform." But a new ecosystem is worthless without any apps to back it up, and that's why the company is enticing developers with two limited-release preview phones: The Keon and the Peak. Both come in orange or white and will be built by Spanish hardware-maker Geeksphone.
The Keon is being touted as "a light and versatile" device that runs on meager hardware specs (1.1 Ghz Snapdragon processor, 512 MBs RAM, 3 megapixel camera – see a full run-down here). It's low-specced "by design," says Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch, likely to establish "a profile for a device that can easily appeal to a developing market." In other words, you probably don't want to build a resource-hogging "Instagram for video!" application for it.
The Peak, on the other hand, is being described as a "powerful developer preview" stuffed with "cutting-edge features" (4.3-inch HD screen, two 1.2 Ghz Snapdragon processors, etc.). Think nicer-end Androids.
But why is Mozilla intent on building a new mobile OS in the first place? "Freedom," says Mozilla director of websites and developer engagement Stormy Peters in a blog post. "You're not locked in to a vendor-controlled ecosystem. You can distribute your app through the Firefox Marketplace, your own website, or any other store based on Mozilla's open app store technology." That means iPhone owners will be able to use the same Mozilla apps as their Android-wielding friends via the web. A few weeks back, Ubuntu announced that it too was working on building a less-cluttered open standard OS for all smartphones. Remember: Competition, especially in the phone universe, is always a good thing.
No word on pricing, but interested developers will be able to get their hands on the Firefox phones next month.
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