Mozilla makes headway in web-based mobile apps

Mozilla has taken two big steps toward its ambitious mobile-phone project.

On Monday, the Mountain View-based nonprofit announced it will partner with Spain-based telecom giant Telefonica to build its free browser-based B2G operating system, and announced Qualcomm will make the hardware for the new phone.

The Merc’s Mike Swift reported last week on Mozilla’s plan to make smartphones more viable to a wider global market by offering browser-based apps based on HTML5, as well as a cheaper mobile phone that wouldn’t be locked into a specific operating system, such as Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android.

Mozilla, which found massive success in breaking Microsoft’s web-browser stranglehold by introducing Firefox almost a decade ago, is seeking to do the same thing for mobile phones.

Calls, messaging and web browsing would all reportedly run as HTML5 apps accessed through a Firefox browser.

CNet reports that the new platform, which would require less processing power, would result in a significantly cheaper phone — about $50 to make. In a CNet interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Telefonico executive Carlos Domingo said the phone’s cost to consumers would be “ten times cheaper than an iPhone.”

“A lot of people can afford the kind of phone we’re building,” Mozilla chief technology officer Brendan Eich told CNet.

“From our experience in Latin America we know that a huge part of the market is not being catered for by current smartphones,” Telefonica said in a statement. “With new open Web devices we will be able to offer a smartphone experience at the right price point for these customers.”

In a statement, Mozilla said the project seeks a more open, standardized system over all devices and platforms, “helping us move the needle to advance the Web and make it a more people-centric experience for all.” The new phones are expected to be released later this year.



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