#mwc12 – Telefónica and Mozilla pioneer smartphones built on HTML 5


27 Feb 2012

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Telefonica Digital CTO Carlos Domingo

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MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS – Telecoms giant Telefónica Digital has forged an alliance with Mozilla to pioneer a new genre of smartphone based on completely open standards. The HTML 5-driven phones will allow app creators to access core phone APIs.

This morning at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Telefónica and Mozilla demonstrated a new phone architecture that relies entirely on web-based HTML 5 applications and run via the Firefox Web browser.

The smartphone demonstrated this morning, which uses a Qualcomm chip, was engineered via Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko project.

Telefónica’s Carlos Domingo explained that the use of Firefox and HTML 5 means it is possible to remove much of the middleware and other software on the device, making apps faster to run and bringing down the cost of the device.

Domingo said there are no proprietary APIs in the device architecture at all, making it a truly open web standards phone that presents exciting new opportunities for app creators.

“We want everything on this device to be done with HTML 5,” Domingo said.

Demonstrating the smartphone, Domingo said everything about the device – including sensors, accelerometer, compass, NFC – can be written in Javascript.

“HTML 5 can make a leap to a full platform for mobile. We don’t want just a special OS, we want a whole category of web operating systems to emerge.”

Domingo said the project has sparked the interest of Adobe and, intriguingly, Facebook, which would like to bring social networking to life via smartphones in emerging economies.

“We are very conscious of markets like Latin America, where smartphone penetration is very low.

“We are taking the software stack developed with Mozilla to develop low-end devices with smartphone capabilities and bring smartphones to the masses."

Mozilla CTO Brendan Eich said the key is to deliver advanced web technologies that eliminate roadblocks for users and developers. Crucially, he said, it would allow an app economy to emerge outside of walled gardens or controlled ecosystems.

“Apps will become like other web content, easy to commoditise and hyper-linkable.

Read more on the Mobile World Congress 2012:

#mwc12 – Sony unveils new Android UI with Xperia P and U smartphones

#mwc12 – Telefónica shows off download speeds of 100Mbps via LTE

#mwc12 – Samsung unveils new Galaxy Beam and Tab 2 series