Foxconn taking Firefox OS to tablets, not just phones

The Chinese electronics manufacturer plans multiple devices, including tablets and phones, as part of a strategy to supply software and services along with hardware.

Foxconn showed off this Firefox OS tablet at Computex 2013 in Taiwan.
Foxconn showed off this Firefox OS tablet at Computex 2013 in Taiwan. Mozilla

Foxconn and Mozilla announced a partnership Monday under which the Chinese electronics manufacturer will build not just Firefox phones, as others have announced, but tablets, too.

The rumored partnership was confirmed as Mozilla and Foxconn announced their tie-up at the Computex show in Taiwan. By including software in its devices, Foxconn gets to sell a more complete and therefore potentially valuable product to those companies that actually will attach their brands to the hardware.

"We believe that the integration of software and hardware development will offer greater benefits to our customers and consumers," said Young Liu, the general manager of Foxconn's Innovation Digital System Business Group, in a statement. "Firefox OS from Mozilla is based on HTML5 and open web technologies. The whole idea perfectly matches to the strategies promoted by Foxconn."

At a press conference, Foxconn showed off a Firefox tablet, a departure from other manufacturers who've just announced Firefox OS smartphones. The company plans to build at least five Firefox OS devices and will make more than just phones and tablets, according to The Next Web. It doesn't plan to build its own branded products, though, the company said at the conference.

Li Gong, senior vice president of Mozilla's mobile devices effort and president of its Asian operations, shows a variety of Firefox OS devices at Computex 2013.
Li Gong, senior vice president of Mozilla's mobile devices effort and president of its Asian operations, shows a variety of Firefox OS devices at Computex 2013. Mozilla

Mozilla stands to benefit, too, by getting a major ally in its effort to spread Firefox OS and thereby to advance its work to bring open-Web values to the mobile market.

The browser-based operating system isn't yet properly on the market, though a small Spanish company called Geeksphone is selling Firefox OS phones for developers and Firefox OS phones should reach cost-conscious consumers in Brazil and other developing markets soon.

Mozilla announced a notable list of carriers interested in Firefox OS . The hardware partner list is gradually expanding, too: previously announced partners include ZTE, Huawei, Alcatel, LG Electronics, and Sony Mobile .

Firefox OS runs Web apps on a browser foundation, meaning that Mozilla isn't starting from scratch when it comes to building an app ecosystem. It's not clear, though, how well Firefox OS will compete with well established operating systems, particularly Android, which is spreading into lower-cost smartphones.

A range of Firefox OS phones is now joined by a tablet at the Computex 2013 show. Foxconn said it plans to build Firefox OS tablets as well as other devices.
A range of Firefox OS phones is now joined by a tablet at the Computex 2013 show. Foxconn said it plans to build Firefox OS tablets as well as other devices. Mozilla
 

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