Ina Fried

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Huawei Plans Firefox OS Phone, but CEO Says Unclear How Consumers Will Take to It

Although Huawei is among the manufacturers touted by Mozilla as committed to building Firefox OS devices, the Chinese company’s chief says he has doubts as to how successful the new operating system will be.

Huawei Richard Yu

“Whether the consumers will accept it or not, it is difficult to say,” Huawei Device Chairman Richard Yu said Wednesday during an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Carriers, he said, are eager to have alternatives to iOS and Android. It is easy to understand that, Yu told AllThingsD. “But whether this can be very successful or not, it is too early to say.”

It will take time, he said, and needs more than just devices and interest from carriers. “You need ecosystem support,” he said, adding that it is ultimately consumers who will decide if there is enough value there.

If it does find a home, it will probably be at the low end of the market.

Yu said that carriers are also encouraging Huawei to consider building devices based on the open source Tizen effort. Huawei has built experimental devices, Yu said, but hasn’t yet committed to bringing anything to market.

“We are watching,” he said.

Huawei has quietly become the third-largest maker of smartphones, behind Apple and Samsung, though Yu readily acknowledges that those rivals are far larger and more profitable.

While most of Huawei’s business is on Android devices, the company also has a Windows Phone model, the Ascend W1, which went on sale last year. The response has been strong enough that successor devices will come this year, he said.

“The W2 and W3 are in the works,” he said.

Yu had plenty more to say during our sit-down. In part two of the interview, we’ll hear how Yu plans to nearly double smartphone sales this year, and his thoughts on Samsung and Apple.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work