Telefónica backs Firefox Mobile OS as alternative to Android

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Mozilla can end ‘over-dependence’ on market-leading OS, says Telefónica Digital CEO Key

Supporting the development of the Firefox Mobile operating system is vital to reducing Telefónica’s over-reliance on Android handsets, according to Telefónica Digital CEO Matthew Key.

Key, who was speaking during an event in London this month, said it is important the market has an alternative to Android, and insists Mozilla can provide a viable alternative.

Operators Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia and US-based Sprint have also backed the OS.

Telefónica and Mozilla claim as Firefox OS will be a web-based operating system which carries out all tasks using HTML5, devices will not require as much hardware power to produce handsets that are fast enough to encourage consumers to use more data services.

Telefónica began working on its own web-based mobile OS two years ago, but following Mozilla’s announcement it too was working on a similar OS a year ago the two organisations decided to join forces and combine their development teams.

Key said the first devices running Firefox are being built by ZTE and Alcatel One Touch, but said he is talking to “three or four” well-known manufacturers about building devices for the operating system.

Telefónica expects these devices to cost less than $100 (£65) and to launch first in Brazil during Q1 2013 and in Europe later in the year.

Key said: “I am looking to create an operating system that Mozilla owns and runs that starts to balance out our strategic over-dependence on Android, particularly at the lower end of the smartphone market.

“It also enables me to accelerate smartphone penetration, particularly in Latin America, where smartphone penetration is still only around 10 per cent.”

He added: “We can produce the same experience as on an Android handset cheaper, or a better experience at the same price.

“We don’t underestimate the size of the task – there have been many attempts at creating new operating systems that have failed and we recognise that we have to get many different parts of the ecosystem involved.

“But strategically it is very important for us.”

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