ZTE Confirms Firefox OS Phone coming in 2013

It’s been a busy season for ZTE, they’ve impressed us with the announcement of two stellar devices, the Nubia Z5, and the ZTE Grand S, Not to mention the rumors of the upcoming Nubia Z7 superphone!

Lixin Chen (ZTE USA)jpg
Cheng Lixin, CEO of ZTE Corp.’s U.S. unit

But along with the high-profile hype around their Android devices, ZTE’s US chief, Cheng Lixin, confirmed in and interview with Bloomberg, that they are working with Qualcomm to develop an inexpensive phone that will run the Firefox OS.

So, you might be asking yourself, “s0 what, who cares about that?”

Well, as it turns out, quite a lot of folks haven’t made the transition from feature phones to smartphones, and the overwhelming quick pace of technical advancement has left a void where “non-smarphones” used inhabit.

A Firefox OS phone is a bit of the best of both worlds, it has a touch based UI and many of the advantages of a smart phone, but it’s applications do most of their work out in the cloud, so the hardware is simpler and less expensive, even thought the look and feel approaches what’s achievable in an Android or iOS phone. Additionally, With it’s HTML5 based user interface, it is considerably easier to customize and roll out applications and core phone features. This is both a blessing and a curse, since while it makes it easier to quickly add value, it also allows carriers to make their own modifications that go back to the days of anti-consumer features that make the devices harder to use on other carries networks.

It’s unclear what this new class of non-smartphone/non-feature phone will be called (maybe browserphone?) but Deutsche Telekom AG, Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and Telefonica SA (TEF) all have projects underway to customize the default UI of Firefox OS. Simply stated, the old days of simple feature phones are gone for good, but with Firefox OS phones, the old prices are on their way back.

Overall, Firefox OS is a great addition to the range of options for devices, and shares the open source heritage of Android. It’s great to see that ZTE is openly supporting the OS, and hopefully we’ll see more manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon in the coming year.

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