Forecast: Firefox OS will power just 1% of smartphones shipped in 2013

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Mozilla's forthcoming Firefox mobile operating system will power just 1 percent of all smartphones shipped in 2013, according to a new forecast issued by Strategy Analytics.

Firefox OS (formerly Boot to Gecko) promises a new phone architecture that relies entirely on the Web to enable HTML5 applications with complete access to core device APIs. Telefónica is scheduled to begin selling Firefox-powered smartphones in Brazil in early 2013 through its Vivo unit; the devices will be priced in the same range as feature phones. But as Strategy Analytics notes, the entry-level smartphone segment is currently dominated by Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android in almost every international region, posing major headaches for Firefox OS moving forward.

"To succeed, Firefox OS will need to address at least three main challenges: They are low brand awareness among smartphone consumers worldwide, a limited retail presence in the influential United States market, and a relatively modest ecosystem of supporting apps and services," said Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawston.

That doesn't mean Firefox OS is dead in the water, Mawston told TechCrunch. "It took Android just two years from commercial launch to overtake Symbian and go from new entrant to established global leader, so things can change extremely fast in the smartphone industry," he said, adding that Android launched commercially in the fourth quarter of 2008 and claimed the worldwide market share lead just two years later.

Firefox OS also could make headway as manufacturers seek to diversify their device portfolios away from Android, which remains the target of a patent war spearheaded by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Last week, ZTE said it is developing Firefox smartphones slated to launch in the first quarter of next year. "We are trying to increase our efforts in coming up with our own operating system, while introducing products based on Android," said ZTE Director of Corporate Branding & Communications David Dai Shu. "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 [Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT)] Windows."

In addition to Telefónica, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Smart, Telecom Italia and Telenor also have announced their support for the Mozilla platform. "Firefox Mobile OS can help us drive an HTML5-based platform for creating lower-cost smartphone options for prepaid, postpaid and wholesale customers," Sprint Product Chief and Executive Vice President Fared Adib said in July.

For more:
- read this release
- read this TechCrunch article

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