Mozilla’s Firefox OS is a smartphone operating system designed to run web apps. At launch, it’s expected to run on low-end and mid-range smartphones, and Mozilla isn’t necessarily targeting the biggest smartphone markets… at least not initially.

CEO Gary Kovacs told AllThingsD that the first Firefox OS phones will launch in 5 countries this June.

Firefox OS

The first countries will be Brazil, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Venezuala. Kovacs says 11 more countries should get Firefox OS by the end of the year, but the US won’t be included until 2014.

Firefox OS is based on Android, but phones running the operating system won’t be able to run Android apps. Instead, Mozilla wants developers to focus on web apps which will be able to run on handsets as if they were native apps.

Users will be able to download apps from a Mozilla marketplace, but since apps are hosted on remote servers, they’ll essentially always be up to date.

Thanks to HTML5 and other recent web technologies, many apps should also be able to work even if you don’t have an active internet connection, since some data can be saved and cached on your device.

If the concept sounds familiar, that’s because it sounds a lot like Apple’s original idea for the iPhone. Before the App Store was launched, Apple insisted that developers could just write web apps that users could run in the mobile Safari web browser. But they weren’t as fast as native apps and didn’t integrate into the operating system very well.

It’s too soon to tell whether Firefox OS will suffer from similar problems, or if the web (and mobile devices in general) have come far enough in the past 5 years to make web app-only devices viable.

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7 replies on “Firefox OS phones will launch in 5 countries this June”

  1. Wouldn’t there be a need to have an unlimited data plan since it requires that one be connected (almost) continually to use an app that is web based? Perhaps this is why Apple dropped it and went with an app store?

  2. Too bad it’s not available in Indonesia, considering FirefoxOS phone price point is the sweet spot here. Also Firefox is the dominant browser in Indonesia

    1. You are right Dwi. Mozilla is crazy to omit Indonesia in the first roll-out. There is a deep craving for something to compete with Blackberry in Indonesia, and no need to worry about Apple – the Indonesian people are smart enough to avoid being gouged.

  3. Still seems to me that Mozilla should target this at tablets/ereaders first. Firefox excels at extensions that let you do almost anything you could do with platform-specific apps. That’s its strength. But it’s success is based on desktop and laptop platforms, not phones. Having said that, it would be great if they succeeded. Firefox on Linux on any hardware is more appealing to me than Android/iOS/Win8/etc “walled garden.”

  4. I just wish they’d hurry up and ship the Keon and Peak – I’ve been waiting for quite some time now. They’re over two months late, without any word about what’s the new timeline.

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