Last year in July we reported that Firefox had started working on its very own mobile Firefox OS. Rather than an Android UI skin, or anything else designed to run in tandem with a pre-existing mobile OS, Firefox OS is a new ground-up operating system aimed at providing direct competition in the lower ends of the smartphone market, specifically the prepaid market.
We were obviously intrigued, as a new competitor in the smartphone market, even if its focus is on the lower end of prepaid smart-devices, still opens up interesting possibilities. After all, should Firefox OS be a success it’s unlikely that it will continue to aim its appeal at such a small demographic of customers.
Firefox OS is a web-based OS designed around the Firefox web browser and HTML5.
The first two devices are the Keon and the Peak. The Keon comes running a 3.5 inch 320×480 display, single-core 1GHz CPU, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of on-board storage, upgradeable memory via a MicroSD slot and a 3MP rear camera. This is very much a budget phone, meaning that while its specs certainly fail to impress, Mozilla should be able to offer it at a very affordable price.
The Peak is a bit better than the Keon. A 4.3 inch 540×960 display, dual-core 1.2GHz S4 CPU, 512MB of RAM, 4GB internal storage and 8MP rear camera. These specs still aren’t head-turning, but once again the price should hopefully be the deciding factor here.
One advantage these two low-end phones may have over the competition is that Firefox OS, at least for now, should be specifically designed to work with low-end phones. One problem with many cheap iPhones, Androids or Windows Phones is that they end up being slow and jerky, as their limited specs fail to handle more and more modern software updates to their already heavy-handed OS demands. An OS that is made to run on low end specs and nothing more should make much more efficient use of what a device has to offer.
We’ve no word on pricing or availability yet, but Mozilla’s original plan was to launch Firefox OS in South America and then see where they should go from there. Hopefully Mozilla has changed its mind and is planning for a wider release, but we’re not going to hold our breaths.
Something tells us that we won’t be getting our hands on a Keon or a Peak for a long time, if at all. Still, we’ll remain hopeful that this could end up being a new low-end competitor, rather than a poor showing, doomed to go the way of WebOS and other failed platforms.