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ZTE prepares its Firefox OS handset for a European launch this year

ZTE is preparing to launch its Firefox OS powered smartphone in Europe later this year. Could this handset spark a new war for control over the budget smartphone market?
January 10, 2013
firefox OS

Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE is preparing to launch its Firefox OS powered smartphone in Europe before the end of 2013. The switch over to Mozilla’s operating system is most likely an attempt to move away from becoming too dependent on Android, which currently runs on as many as 90% of ZTE’s smartphones.

Firefox OS is an open-source, Linux-based operating system, just like Android. However, the project is focussed around developing applications using HTML5, JavaScript and other open web application APIs, rather than more traditional application development.

Whilst ZTE is currently in talks with an unnamed European carrier to bring its phone over to the continent, it’s also very interested in making a move into the U.S. smartphone marketplace. Cheng Lixin, chief executive officer of ZTE’s U.S. unit, stated that the company is going to monitor the U.S. market very closely before making any announcements on a stateside release.

The company has already planned to invest $30 million into U.S.-based research and development, so we can be pretty certain that it’s serious about trying to break into the lucrative U.S. smartphone market.

Firefox OS still has quite a way to go before it can rival Android, but it could certainly create some interesting competition if ZTE’s phones are priced right. The low-end smartphone market has been receiving quite a bit of attention from Chinese manufactures recently, and with many mid-range handsets still lingering on older versions of Android, a new operating system might just be the deal breaker when it comes to attracting budget orientated customers.