Mozilla To Launch Phone Operating System

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Mozilla - the company behind the Firefox web browser - is to take on Android and Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) iOS and release its own mobile operating system.

Using standard HTML 5 web language, Mozilla says its system will be able to operate on more basic devices than current smartphones.

The first crop of handsets will be inexpensive touchscreen devices made by the likes of Huawei and LG (KSE: 003550.KS - news) , and will run on Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.

Phones using the new system will appear this summer, starting with Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.

Mozilla says that 18 phone networks are backing the venture, including Deutsche Telekom (Xetra: 555750 - news) of Germany and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S - news) in the US.

However, the not-for-profit company faces a tough market currently dominated by Apple's iOS and Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG - news) 's Android, which have 22% and 69% share respectively.

Others fighting to take a piece of the action include Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT - news) 's Windows Phone platform and Blackberry's operating system.

Speaking at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress, Mozilla boss Gary Kovacs revealed high hopes for the new system.

He said: "Our goal is to level the playing field and usher in an explosion of content and services that will meet the diverse needs of the next two billion people online."

Experts have praised Mozilla's early efforts in getting networks and manufacturers on board, but there are concerns about how willing developers will be to produce apps for the new system.

"Developers, which are often small operations, will not want to spend their time developing and supporting applications on several platforms," said Mohssen Toumi from analysts Booz & Co. "Especially if one of them has only a small share of the market."

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