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Mozilla Launching Open-Source Smartphones to Challenge Apple's iPhone

Mozilla, the nonprofit that created Firefox OS, plans to further its mission to make the web accessible to everyone with two new open-source smartphones. The company will leverage Firefox OS, along with the power of open standards and an open community, to launch a rival to Apple's iOS and Google's Android, and it is inviting web developers to join in its mission.

The smartphones, which will be positioned as a cheaper alternative to iPhone, will be shipped to developers in early February to allow them to start creating apps for the phones. The phones will not be available to the general public until later this year, launching first in Brazil to gain a foothold on a less saturated market than Europe or the U.S.

The preview phones come from the small Spanish-based manufacturer GeeksPhone, the first in what the nonprofit group hopes will be a series of low-cost smartphones to be sold around the world, including in developing countries.

The two models, the basic Keon and the higher-end Peak, will be more open-source than the iPhone and other Android devices.

Mozilla encourages developers to create tools and apps for their smartphones and to distribute them through their own websites. In comparison, competitor Apple forces all developers to distribute apps through the Apple store so the company can retain complete control over the technology used on its phones.

Mozilla is also inviting developers to participate in Firefox OS App Days, a series of hack days where developers can learn, hack, and share apps around Firefox OS. Most of the App Days events will take place Saturday, January 26, with the goal of amplifying the grassroots developer movement worldwide.

The company hopes to seed the open-source community with enthusiasm for its upcoming smartphone so it can build out a robust app ecosystem before the public launch later this year.


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