Talking tech since 2003

This year is shaping up to be a big one in the mobile space. iOS and Android are still going strong, Windows Phone 8 is set to make a big push, and BlackBerry OS 10 devices will make their way onto carriers in the near future. We even caught a glimpse of Canonical’s Ubuntu Phone OS. It begs the question: will the market be receptive to even more mobile OS options?

Mozilla seems to think so, as today it outed two developer phones for its Firefox OS — the Keon model and the Peak model. Both will run a preview of Firefox OS, and Mozilla hopes both will be available sometime in February.

Two companies — Geeksphone and Telefonica — are working jointly with Mozilla to put these developer preview devices out.

The Keon model sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 processor that clocks in at 1 GHz. It supports HSPA 3G as well as Edge 2G networks, and contains lighter specs than most smartphones we see nowadays — a 3.5-inch multitouch screen, 4 GB of ROM, and 512 MB of RAM.

The Peak model contains similar specs to the Keon, but ups the processor to a dual-core, 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S4, adds a 4.3-inch qHD IPS multitouch display, and adds a bigger battery than the Keon model. Both models include MicroSD card expansion slots, cameras (3 MP and 8 MP, respectively), and both support Wi-Fi N.

The Firefox Phone OS is built around open Web standards, but Mozilla claims that phones running its operating system will still be able to do “phone things,” even if the app a phone is running is built in HTML 5. Firefox OS Web apps will be able to make your phone vibrate, let you send a text, or let you place a call. It’s unclear from Mozilla’s announcement how deep Firefox OS will allow HTML 5 apps to go or how responsive the apps will be. Two of the major knocks against Web apps — and the reason Apple changed its tune a few years ago to allow third-party iPhone apps — is the fact that Web apps traditionally don’t have access to core phone features, and they’re generally slower and less responsive than native apps.

The Geeksphone site (which Mozilla points you to if you’re interested in purchasing a preview phone) speaks about how the price of the developer preview devices will be available “at a price you could never have imagined,” but unfortunately, specifics prices aren’t mentioned. It’s worth nothing that Geeksphone is based in Spain, so if you do plan on ordering a device, it’ll have to make its way across the Atlantic to reach you.

That said, I’m intrigued by the devices — even if they are a bit underpowered — and Firefox OS, but again, I have to wonder how many hats are going to be thrown into the mobile OS ring before the market becomes completely over-saturated.

What do you think? Does Firefox OS have a shot?

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