Mozilla today previewed the first commercial build of its Firefox OS open mobile ecosystem and announced new operator rollout plans as well as the Firefox Marketplace at a press conference before the start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The organization also said that Firefox OS will launch with Firefox Marketplace, and a new ability to discover one-time use and downloadable apps while also enabling easy creation, distribution and discovery of HTML5 apps worldwide.
Mozilla hopes that there's room for a software developer-friendly mobile platform alongside Apple's and Google's Android, which together power the majority of mobile devices on the planet.
Firefox OS smartphones are the first built entirely to open Web standards, enabling every feature to be developed as an HTML5 application. The platform?s flexibility allows carriers to easily tailor the interface and develop localized services that match the needs of their customer base.
Firefox OS will power the world's first Open Web Devices in key emerging markets. The smartphone OS includes calls, messaging, email, camera and more out of the box, as well as built-in cost controls, social features with Facebook and Twitter, location-based services, the Firefox Web browser, new ability to discover one-time use and downloadable apps, Firefox Marketplace and much more.
"Every device is better if it's social and we're excited that Firefox OS users will have easy access to the mobile Web-based version of Facebook that will take advantage of our current and future features," said Vaughan Smith, VP of Mobile Partnerships at Facebook.
With Firefox OS, you can enter any search term and instantly create a one-time use or downloadable app. Creating and consuming these apps on demand puts users in complete control of their app and will make it possible for people to get the exact content they want, when they want it.
Firefox OS offers a deep contextual search that promises to take you to the exact content you want instead of just generic apps in the same category. It will allow far more sophisticated and deeper search capabilities as you can search both within apps and on the Web at the same time, which is not possible with native apps. For example, search for your favorite music artist and get results to buy your favorite song, concert tickets or even listen to your favorite song instantly.
Firefox Marketplace will offer apps in categories like games, news and media, business and productivity. These apps are tied to you and your online identity to take across devices and platforms.
Every Web developer can create and distribute HTML5 apps so you can find an app for whatever you want - even local, niche and emerging topics. Firefox Marketplace will include popular apps such as AccuWeather, Airbnb, Box, Cut the Rope, Disney Mobile Games, EA games, Facebook, Nokia HERE, MTV Brasil, Pulse News, SoundCloud, SporTV, Terra, Time Out and Twitter as well as personally-tailored and local apps that are relevant to users in their respective regions.
Firefox Marketplace will make smartphones capable of offering more app experiences. The Web now has the potential to be the world?s largest marketplace with the new Web APIs Mozilla developed. The open Web platform and these new Web APIs also enable developers to distribute apps directly, with no need for gatekeepers.
"Firefox OS will break down the walls between apps and the Web because Firefox OS apps are built using Web technologies, like HTML5. We expect to see lots of amazing apps people love built for Firefox OS because more developers are already creating for the Web than for any other platform," said Jay Sullivan, Mozilla Senior Vice President of Products.
Firefox Marketplace can be previewed on Firefox for Android Aurora and will be offered with the first Firefox OS phones to launch later this year.
The first wave of Firefox OS devices will be available to consumers in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.
To date, 17 key operators spanning the globe have committed to the open web device initiative: America Movil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Three Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia Group, Telefonica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom.
Mozilla is working with manufacturers Alcatel (TCL), LG and ZTE (see seperate coverage
to build the first Firefox OS devices, with Huawei to follow later in the year, all powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors. In addition, Mozilla has signed strategic relationships with key content and service partners.
Initial, "first wave" launch plans were announced by America Movil, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and Telenor, most seeing starts mid-year.