Bonnie Cha

Recent Posts by Bonnie Cha

First Firefox OS Smartphone, the ZTE Open, Launches in Spain Tomorrow for $90

Firefox OS, Mozilla’s open-source, browser-based mobile operating system, will make its debut tomorrow when the ZTE Open goes on sale in Spain.

The Firefox OS-based smartphone will be sold through Telefónica’s Movistar and cost 69 euros (around $90 U.S.), which includes 30 euros ($39) in prepaid credit. For customers who sign up for a two-year contract, the cost is just 2.38 euros ($3) each month.

For that price, it’s no surprise that you’re not getting a high-end phone. The ZTE Open is very much an entry-level device, with a 3.5-inch, 480 by 320 pixel touchscreen, a 3.2-megapixel camera and 512 megabytes of internal storage. (A four gigabyte microSD card is also included with the purchase of the phone.)

But Mozilla and its partners are hoping that the openness of Firefox OS will attract new customers, especially in emerging markets. Since Firefox OS is basically a mobile browser, apps that run within it aren’t tied to a particular OS like Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android. One advantage for buyers may be more flexibility when it comes to switching to a new phone, since their apps and content won’t be locked to a proprietary platform.

“We believe that smartphones need to be more open and that the Web is the platform for making this possible,” said Luis Miguel Gilperez, CEO of Telefónica España, in a statement. “Consumers should not be locked to any one system but have the choice to consume the content they want and the flexibility to be able to take it with them when they change devices.”

Still, it will be no easy feat going up against Apple and Google, and Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs, who will step down later his year, realizes that Firefox OS might not explode right off the bat — a concern echoed by at least one of its partners.

At our D: Dive Into Mobile conference in April, AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg humorously (but also seriously) asked Kovacs “What the fuck?” about the idea of Mozilla creating its own mobile OS. You can see the full interview in the video below. Also, be sure to check out Lauren Goode’s hands-on with Firefox OS here.

In addition to the ZTE Open, Mozilla said the Alcatel One Touch Fire will go on sale soon. So far, the company has more than 20 hardware and mobile operating partners around the world. Mozilla plans to launch phones in Venezuela, Poland, Brazil and Portugal this year and hit the U.S. in 2014.

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When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post