Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Get Ready for the Mozilla Firefox Phone

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Since its creation over a decade ago, Mozilla has never had its own complete operating system. That’s now about to change as Mozilla is ramping up its Boot to Gecko effort, which will enable Mozilla Firefox-powered phones. Gecko is the underlying rendering framework behind Firefox.

Today Mozilla announced that leading service providers, including Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom, are now supporting the Boot to Gecko (B2G) effort. Additionally, mobile chip vendor Qualcomm is collaborating in the effort, which is all about opening up the mobile web.

“For the first time the capabilities of HTML5 and the open Web have been fully leveraged to create an entirely new mobile platform,” Carlos Domingo, Director of Product Development & Innovation at Telefónica Digital, said in a statement. “From our experience in Latin America we know that a huge part of the market is not being catered [to] by current smartphones.”

The actual phones that Boot to Gecko will power are officially being called Open Web Devices (OWD) by Telefonica. OWD is also being backed by Adobe, which is well known for its Flash technologies, though they also have a position in the open source mobile development space as well. At the end of 2011, Adobe acquired mobile vendor Nitobi, which is the lead commercial sponsor behind the popular open source PhoneGap mobile development tool.

“We continue to invest in HTML5 products and technologies and support standards bodies like the W3C,” Arno Gourdol, Senior Director, Web Platform & Authoring at Adobe, said in a statement. “The Open Web Devices APIs can be supported as extensions to PhoneGap, enabling developers to create rich HTML5 apps that work across these new Open Web Devices and all of the platforms supported by PhoneGap, including Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone.”

The Boot to Gecko project was first revealed by Mozilla in July of 2011, and has been in development ever since. At the core of Boot to Gecko is the idea that the web and web standards like HTML5 and CSS3 should be the basis for native mobile web apps just as they are for desktop web applications.

The Web first ideal is being delivered with Mozilla’s WebApp effort, which will see the creation of a new era of cross-platform web-based mobile apps. The open app effort will officially be open to developer submissions on Tuesday. The goal is to enable a Mozilla Marketplace that is similar to the app stores that Apple and Google Android already have.

“It has long been our mission to deliver advanced Web technologies that eliminate roadblocks for users and developers,” Brendan Eich, CTO at Mozilla said. “We did it first with Firefox, and now we’re doing it again in creating the first Open Web Devices.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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