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Firefox handset OS to challenge Google, Apple

AFP-JIJI

Mozilla Foundation announced Sunday it will launch in midyear its Firefox operating system for smartphones in a direct challenge to the duopoly of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

Mozilla, which campaigns for open development of the online world, showed off the first commercial version of the Firefox OS on the eve of the opening of the world’s biggest mobile fair in Barcelona, Spain.

Smartphones equipped with Firefox OS look familiar to those on other systems, with an array of apps to be made available on an online store and a mapping program developed by Nokia.

Mozilla, which aims to take third place behind Android and iOS, said it has already lured 17 operators, including Sprint, China Unicom, KDDI, Singtel, Telefonica and Deutsche Telecom.

The foundation said it was working with handset manufacturers South Korea’s LG and China’s TCL and ZTE on Firefox OS-run devices, with China’s Huawei to follow later in the year.

All the smartphones would be run with Qualcomm Snapdragon application processors, which use an architecture licensed by Cambridge, England-based ARM.

They will be available from the Northern Hemisphere summer, with the first devices arriving in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.

There are several operating systems vying for the No. 3 spot, however, including Microsoft’s Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Firefox and Samsung’s open-source project Tizen.

Android for HP tablet

BARCELONA, Spain
AP

Hewlett-Packard Co. is making a tablet computer that uses Google’s Android operating system, steering clear of Microsoft’s latest tablet-oriented version of Windows, the company said Sunday.

The HP Slate 7 will have a 7-inch screen, making it similar in size to the Amazon Kindle Fire. It will cost $169 when it goes on sale in April in the U.S.

Most tablet makers, including Samsung and Amazon, have chosen Android as the best and cheapest operating system for products that can compete against Apple’s iPad. HP previously made a tablet based on Palm’s WebOS software, but the effort fizzled. The company also makes a more powerful tablet with PC-type components for the corporate market, which runs a PC-style version of Windows 8. It hasn’t produced a tablet using Windows RT, Microsoft’s product for iPad-type tablets.

HP has not ruled out using Windows RT in the future, saying the company plans a broad portfolio of tablets tailored toward different types of buyers. But HP’s choice of Android for a consumer device and Windows 8 for a corporate tablet leaves little room for Windows RT, which Microsoft hopes will expand the reach of Windows beyond corporate tablets.