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Firefox OS out next year on ZTE and Alcatel phones

Mozilla's mobile operating system has become official, and will be launching in 2013.

Mozilla's brand-new Firefox OS will launch next year, with Alcatel and ZTE confirmed to be crafting the first phones running the new software.

Firefox OS comes from Mozilla's Boot to Gecko project, and is powered by HTML5. The Boot to Gecko name has been abandoned now, in favour of something much more recognisable.

The first phones running the spangly new operating system will be launched in Brazil early next year. There's no word on when we can expect to see phones hitting the UK, or any details on what the first devices will look like, but Mozilla has confirmed Qualcomm Snapdragon processors will power Alcatel and ZTE's first devices.

Mozilla has Telefónica (which owns O2) on board too. "Firefox OS will bring a better smart phone experience to a higher proportion of the population at a lower cost," said Telefónica Digital's CEO Matthew Key.

As HTML5 is an open standard, it will hopefully prove simple enough for people to build apps for Firefox OS, and there won't be the walled-garden approach that you see on Apple's iOS App Store.

My colleague Rich was lucky enough to see a nascent version of Forefox OS running on a Samsung Galaxy S2 at Mobile World Congress this year. His first impressions were that the new platform could give cheap Android phones a run for their money, and could kill off Symbian completely.

Firefox OS will certainly start off on cheap phones, but if it manages to put smart phone tech in people's mitts for very little cash, the impact could be felt right through the industry. We'll keep you in the loop, and I've got my fingers crossed that we see O2 launching a super-cheap Firefox OS phone in the UK before long.

Meanwhile Mozilla is also cooking up a very tempting iPad browser app. Dubbed 'Junior', the upcoming app will compete with Google's just-released Chrome iPad app.

Do you think Firefox OS has potential? Let me know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.