All the phones will run on chips supplied by San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc., whose CEO Paul Jacobs appeared at Mozilla's press event Sunday in Barcelona, Spain, on the eve of the world's largest cellphone trade show.
The industry has seen various attempts to launch "open" smartphone operating systems, with little success. Jay Sullivan, vice president of products at Mozilla, said these failed because they were designed "by committee," with too many constituents to please. While developing and supporting the Firefox browser, Mozilla has learned to develop large-scale "open" projects effectively, he said.
He also said that putting quality third-party applications on Firefox phones will be easy, because they're based on HTML 5, an emerging standard for Web applications.
"Firefox OS has achieved something that no device software platform has previously managed - translating an industry talking shop into a huge commitment from both carriers and hardware vendors at its commercial launch," said Tony Cripps, an analyst at research firm Ovum. "Neither Android nor Symbian — the closest benchmarks in terms of broad industry sponsorship that we've previously seen — have rallied the level of support that Firefox OS has achieved so early in its development."