We’ve been on the trail of Firefox’s upcoming mobile OS for a while now and there has been some pretty significant developments recently, so here’s a quick round-up of the latest in the ongoing Firefox OS story.
At the start of the month Mozilla announced some good news, Firefox OS will hit the market this year. They announced the first five countries that could see smartphones running their software as early as June, these were: Venezuela, Poland, Brazil, Portugal and Spain.
This list of countries correlates with early reports however a number of countries (Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro and Serbia) that were hinted to be part of the first wave of devices have thus far not been discussed any further, suggesting there could be delays in establishing phones running Firefox OS in these countries.
After the news of the first release dates and the first markets that will be getting Firefox OS there was an announcement on the features front of the OS. This was quite a big release as what was revealed may be one of those defining features that has the potential to separate Firefox OS from its competitors.
The new feature revealed by Mozilla was a unique and fully integrated payment system that will be available exclusively on Firefox OS. The payment system will be in the form of an application programming interface (API) that will be built into Firefox OS with the intention of making web payments using a smartphone simpler and more secure.
It seems as though this integrated payment system will work much like PayPal, indeed many other commentators seem to be comparing the two, however Mozilla seem to be looking to improve on PayPal, as they claim that the service is not integrated into devices very well.
The announcement of an integrated web payment API was significant due to it’s exclusivity. I’ve said before that the most challenging prospect for a new mobile OS is attempting to pry users away from the more established and refined software behind Android and Apple phones and this payment API is a good way to do this, as it offers something fairly substantive that others do not.
Finally, and probably most importantly, Mozilla received what could be perceived as the best news yet on the Firefox OS front as developers were able to get their hands on Firefox OS for the first time, and things got kind of crazy.
Two models running Firefox OS were released, both made by Spanish firm Geeksphone, and both sold out almost immediately. The online store selling the devices even crashed due to the amount of traffic it received after the release.
This shows that developers are keen to play around with Mozilla’s open source platform and create apps for the new low-end software. The news will be music to Mozilla’s ears who will be encouraged by the strong response and will hope that app builders will like the preview of the software and will be able to test their apps sufficiently on the devices offered.
In terms of the models themselves and the specs of the first phones running Firefox OS Geeksphone release one low-end model, the Keon, and one mid-range model in the Peak.
The Keon is a 3.5 inch phone and is powered by a 1GHz Qualcomm processor and 512MB of RAM. This isn’t a shabby showing under the hood, considering that the phone costs £78 before taxes.
The Peak is slightly bigger, coming in at 4.3 inches, and packs slightly more punch in processing power as it features a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor. It also features an 8-megapixel camera, again these specs are impressive considering the phone is prices at £130 (once again this is before taxes).
So it has been a good month for Firefox OS as there has been an announcement of release dates for the wider public, an exclusive feature was revealed and the first two models running the operating system flew off the shelves.
As always I’d love to hear what you think about Firefox OS, does your love of the browser make you interested in the prospect or do you think Mozilla will struggle to compete with the likes of Android.
Images of the Keon and Peak copyright of Geeksphone.