It has been announced that web browser giants Mozilla and manufacturing big guns Foxconn have partnered up and will initially release 5 devices in collaboration, including a tablet and possibly involving a television set in the future.
This was all announced in a joint press conference in Taiwan on Monday and generally it was stuff we were expecting, the conference was announced last week and Mozilla unveiled Foxconn as a partner around the same time.
The news we were expecting was a tablet that will be hitting markets running Mozilla’s HTML-5 based Firefox OS, which is a software that has been on the smartphone radar for a while but this is the first tablet device we’ve seen that will support Mozilla’s internet focussed OS.
Somewhat surprisingly is the lack of OEM that was announced alongside this tablet launch, which also meant there was a lack of technical details, such as price, specs or release date.
There was a video that showed a prototype tablet that had been manufactured by Foxconn and running Firefox OS, however without a brand on the device and with those present not actually being able to touch the tablets (instead they were just playing a video that highlights what the OS could be) these are unlikely to resemble the final product precisely.
It was rumoured before the conference that Foxconn were keen to move themselves from behind the scenes manufacturers to household brand and slap their own name on the tablet however it seems that this was just speculation.
The move does show that Foxconn want to place products they manufacture into a more diverse marketplace. They already make products for the likes of Apple and Huawei but this move will see them increase their stake in emerging economies as it is this market that Firefox OS is initially aimed towards. It will also see them diversify past the more consumer brands they currently work with.
As there were prototypes of a tablet at the announcement it is this product that has received the most attention however it is important to note there were five devices announced, and these are not limited to smartphones and tablets.
Foxconn have long been pushing into the television market and amid strong rumours of an Apple TV set the Asian-based manufacturers claimed at the conference that they are in a prime position to provide a television set that could house Mozilla’s OS.
This is an interesting announcement and further underlines Foxconn’s desire to diversify the products it is producing, one commentator has noted that 40% of Foxconn’s revenue is from Apple and the Asian based company may be nervous that the falling orders from California may leave them counting the cost of putting all of their eggs in one basket.
From Mozilla’s point of view this is another big name to put in the list of partners and takes them a step closer to a wide-scale release of their Firefox OS into the market, this is probably something they are keen to do sooner rather than later after the success of the first smartphones running Firefox OS were released by obscure Spanish firm Geeksphone at budget prices.
With the long list of partners for Firefox OS including names LG and once again Huawei we probably won’t be waiting too long before an OEM does emerge to place their name on the prototyped tablet then we will have more information as to what sort of final product we can expect.
I’ve been following the journey of Firefox OS into the market for a while and I’ve never hidden my excitement for the prospect, this announcement only furthers my anticipation to see a full working device running the OS. The television sets are also an interesting concept and some of the technological advancements in recently released sets will make the prospect of a TV powered by Firefox OS an intriguing one for Mozilla.
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts on these latest developments. I’ve talked about the difficulty Mozilla may face in the smartphone market when releasing a device powered by Firefox OS, due to the sheer amount of competition, do you believe this is mirrored for tablets, or is the iOS and Android grasp not as tight on tablets as it is on smartphones?
Tablet image sourced from Engadget