Mozilla has announced overnight at Mobile World Congress that it has signed up 18 carriers for its low-cost, open source smartphone initiative, including Telstra and possibly Optus.
There's no particular word on when Telstra will start selling its first Firefox OS phones, or indeed which manufacturer it will opt for. LG, ZTE and Huawei are all on board to deliver phones, and Telstra and Optus have both sold all three manufacturers' phones at some stage. The only statement from Telstra in Mozilla's own release is that
Telstra is welcoming the Mozilla initiative as an opportunity to deliver an innovative mobile Web experience to their customers.
The Optus picture is a little murkier, as there's no specific mention of the Optus brand, but its parent company, Singtel is taking Firefox OS phones on board, with Paul O'Sullivan, head of consumer at Singtel stating that
SingTel is a firm believer in giving our customers choice and encouraging innovation and so are excited about the capabilities that can arise from an open mobile ecosystem using HTML5.
Firefox OS' big sell is its use of HTML5 for everything — even the phone dialler — which gives it a lot of open configurability. The main pitch is for markets with low smartphone penetration, which makes Australia an unusual choice, given we've adopted smartphones at a highly accelerated pace. Then again, the other big pitch for telco companies is the ability to customise the user experience, which could mean that Telstra will drop all of its many services on the phones. Hopefully that'll be in an app form that's easy to customise if you don't want those particular services.