Telefónica has begun selling the ZTE Open phone running Firefox OS in Spain, and plans to launch it in Colombia and Venezuala in the coming weeks. Firefox Marketplace is now open for business, which gives a new opportunity for developers.
Mozilla says the phone is targeted at first-time smartphone users, people who are still using feature phones because they haven't had the money or seen the need to switch to a smartphone and the balance of price and features should appeal to this demographic. Priced at $69 euros (around $90) the ZTE Open has a 3.5" HVGA display, 256MB of RAM, 512MB of ROM, a 3.2 megapixel camera and an FM radio. A 4GB microSD card and a 30 euros of credit is also included in the price.
When it comes to apps the phones ship with most things you'd expect, including a camera app, photo gallery, calculator, address book, music player, video player, and FM radio app.
The basic user interface is straightforward. Applications are arranged on a grid that can be scrolled left or right to reveal more software. Along the bottom of the main screen are four main function buttons. They can be customized but by default are for phone calls, text messages, browser, and email.
When first powered the ZTE Open provides users with a simple guide the gives brief introduction to the phone, lets users set up email and helps them import Facebook contacts.
Facebook, Twitter, Nokia Here maps, Wikipedia, Accu Weather, and a game called Poppit are among the popular third party apps available for Firefox OS and in total the Firefox Marketplace, which is easily accessed via the icon at the top left of the phone's display currently has 1157 titles. This may sound a bit sparse compared to Google Play or Apple's App Store, but on the other hand it means that there's an opportunity for developers to have their apps don't get swamped by too much competition.
The next phone to go on sale is the Alcatel One Touch which Deutsche Telekon is expected to launch soon in central Europe. Both new phones are demoed in this video, which also serves to introduce the Firefox Marketplace to new users.
Although Mozilla has not yet announced when Firefox OS devices will go on sale in the US, UK and other parts of the world, the fact that it has recruited more than 20 hardware and operator partners around the world, including from the Taiwan-based Hon Hai company that owns Foxconn, suggests that such launches are in the pipeline and that the Firefox marketplace will become very busy in due course.
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