Firefox OS on an imaginary phone but Foxconn promises the real deal


Mozilla and Foxconn have announced a new partnership that will place Mozilla's Firefox OS on devices made by Foxconn.

Firefox OS is an open source operating system developed for smartphones and tablets and has yet to be given widespread release on any hardware, though software simulators are available to developers, and two "developer" phones (the Keon and the Peak) have been made by Spanish company Geeksphone.

The new deal with Foxconn indicates the beginning of Firefox OS's launch into the mainstream, and could see the operating system placed on eight separate devices, including, but not limited to, tablets and phones.

"Currently, Foxconn is executing on a vision of 'eight screens, one network, and one cloud' with all our strength," said Young Liu, Foxconn's general manager. ""We will develop a series of devices from phones and tablets to TVs and outdoor signage, that are connected to the Internet."

No timetable for the launch the new devices was given, with Liu saying that the decision would be taken by Foxconn's customers. Neither was it revealed for which company the devices were being made.

Mozilla's Firefox OS is based on HTML5, which allows Firefox OS apps to be built with the same basic tools used for building most websites. In theory this allows for a smoother repurposing of webpages into mobile apps, with the final product behaving just like any Android or iOS app.

And as there are more individuals able to build web apps than apps for other platforms, this potentially gives Firefox OS a much larger base of developers.

The phones that have sported Firefox OS so far have been mid-market devices, not able to compete with top end Apple or Samsung devices, but aimed at new entrants into the mobile market.

The Register described Firefox OS-phone Keon as "new and quietly revolutionary"; an approximately €100 device with a 3.5-inch screen, 1GHz processor, half a meg of RAM and a 3 megapixel camera - in tech-terms that's around about the iPhone 3G range.

It seems that the battle for this so-called middle-market might be the next big thing for phone manufacturers, with chip-makers ARM announcing that they intend to see massive growth in that area, estimating that the number of devices sold in this range will grow to 500 million by 2015.