ZTE to launch Firefox OS smartphone at Mobile World Conference

Firefox OS will start competing with Android and Apple's iOS, with phones on the way from ZTE, Mozilla, Telefónica, and Geeksphone

Chinese phone maker ZTE is planning to launch a smartphone based on Mozilla's Firefox OS at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.

That ZTE is planning to launch a phone based on the upcoming OS doesn't come as surprise; last year it announced plans to start selling smartphones based on the platform by early 2013. However, product details will have to wait until Feb. 25.

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Firefox OS is one of a number of new smartphone operating systems that will start competing with Android and Apple's iOS in the next 12 months. Besides Mozilla's platform there is also RIM's BlackBerry 10, which is launching Wednesday. Add to that Canonical's Ubuntu for phones, Sailfish from upstart Jolla, and Tizen, which is backed by Samsung Electronics and Intel.

The idea with Firefox OS is for all user-accessible software running on the phone to be Web apps. In Firefox OS, HTML5 apps can make the phone vibrate, make a phone call or send a text message, Mozilla said in a recent blog post.

More phones based on the Firefox OS are on the way from Mozilla, operator Telefónica and Geeksphone. The Keon and Peak are aimed at developers, and will start shipping in February.

The fact that Firefox OS is backed by the likes of Telefónica and ZTE gives it a chance, according to Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics.

At the Mobile World Congress, ZTE will also launch the Grand Memo, an Android-based device that is expected to have a 5.7-inch screen.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com.

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