The complicated smartphone ecosystem, with participants constantly maneuvering for advantage within it, will get a bit more complicated in 2013, as Mozilla releases its new Firefox smartphone operating system.
European mobile service providers will likely start selling devices using this new operating system very quickly.
Mozilla currently expects a 2014 U.S. launch, with the first waves of phones to go on sale in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.
The Firefox OS, according to Mozilla, will in initially be used by devices sold by 17 mobile service providers interested in seeing an OS and device alternative to Apple and Google.
Those service providers include América Móvil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Three Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia Group, Telefónica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom and Telstra.
Manufacturers of the device so far include Alcatel, LG and ZTE, with Huawei joining later in 2013.
To be sure, telcos have reasons to fear domination of the device markets by just two operating system platforms – Android and Apple’s iOS.
In this case, having more competition on the supplier side would obviously benefit service providers who gain more leverage over their suppliers.
Also, such dominance of operating system markets can lead to pricing power by the device suppliers in ways that raise service provider operating costs.
It’s no secret that mobile service providers would like to encourage more competition in the operating system and device space. One might argue that BlackBerry or Microsoft are already poised to provide such competition, but it does not appear everybody is convinced that is the case – or could be the case.
FireFox is set for its market audition.
Edited by Braden Becker