ZTE to Launch First Smartphone with Mozilla OS

ZTE to Launch First Smartphone with Mozilla OS

Chinese manufacturer ZTE are developing a new mobile OS with Mozilla.

Chinese company ZTE have announced they are developing a new smartphone that runs on Mozilla OS. The phones are reported to be released later this year or during the first quarter of next year, and are the result of a partnership between ZTE and Mozilla, who produce the Firefox browser in the US.

Currently, ZTE’s phones use Android as the main operating system, but the company have also talked about plans to branch out into using Windows 8 by the end of this year too. Currently, Google’s Android OS is the dominant smartphone OS, however this move shows that handset makers are also looking to branch out to other systems too.

Behind the Partnership

ZTE spokesman David Dai Shu told Reuters that the company will still continue to produce Android-based handsets, but that they wanted more balance, and the option to use a different platform than Android: “It’s all part of our wider plans to create a better balance of products using various operating systems. We won’t just rely on Android or Windows.”

The new Mozilla-based handsets will be available in China initially, however ZTE hinted at the possibility that they might become available outside the country too: “We are working with a regional telecom carrier outside of China to unveil products based on our own operating system.”

Mozilla has previously revealed that other international carriers have promised to support the Firefox OS, including Deutsche Telekom, Sprint, Smart, Telecom Italia, Telenor, and Etisalat.

As Apple’s patent war with rival handsets who are using the Android OS wages on, some technology companies are looking closely at alternatives to Google’s OS in order to vary their products.

ZTE are no small player: their smartphone handsets accounted for over 5% of those shipped worldwide in the second quarter of 2012 and they are steadily gaining a larger percentage of the market share.

What Will Google Say?

Google’s response to this decision will no doubt be interesting. ZTE aren’t the first Chinese company to try to create their own OS. Earlier in September, Acer revealed plans to create a new mobile OS in partnership with Alibaba’s Aliyun OS, however the company scrapped those plans soon after.

Unconfirmed reports cited pressure from Google as the reason for the delay, stating that Google claimed Aliyun was derived from Android yet wasn’t compatible with their OS. They also said that manufacturers Acer, part of the Android group, aren’t allowed to ship non-compatible devices. Alibaba defended their OS, saying it was different from Android, however the launch was still delayed indefinitely.

Will the same fate befall ZTE? Watch this space.

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