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Firefox OS will be on ZTE phones early next year

ZTE, maker of decent budget Android gear, says it will release smart phones running the new Firefox OS next year.

Mozilla, best known for its popular open-source web browser Firefox, has a new mobile operating system called Firefox OS -- and it's set to run on new ZTE phones at the start of next year.

ZTE is the world's fourth largest phone maker and is making a bid to branch out from its well-regarded range of inexpensive Android smart phones by getting behind Mozilla's upcoming platform.

"It's all part of our wider plans to create a better balance of products using various operating systems. We won't just rely on Android or Windows," David Dai Shu, a spokesman for the Chinese manufacturer, told Reuters.

There is no word, however, on when the UK would be seeing any of these Foxy new phones -- if ever. Mozilla has said it's working with global phone giants such as Deutsche Telekom, Sprint, Telefónica and Telenor, however. Two of those are in the UK under the EE, Orange, T-Mobile and O2 brands -- so here's hoping we see more phone manufacturers following in ZTE's footsteps and bringing Firefox OS over here soon.

Firefox OS is derived from Mozilla's initial mobile platform effort, Boot to Gecko. It will be powered by HTML5, and since this is an open standard, hopefully developers will find it simple to build applications for it. In comparison, Apple's App Store provides applications restricted by Apple's rules -- developers have to use specific tools and submit them for approval. On Firefox OS, anyone who can build an app on the web can build one for the platform, just like Android.

Not only will this new platform provide an alternative to the big guns of Android, iOS and Windows Phone, but hopefully it will also undercut at least the latter two on price. Although there has been no word on pricing from ZTE, when we spoke to Telefonica earlier this year it promised that its (then Boot to Gecko) phone would be very wallet friendly.

What are your hopes for the new Firefox OS? Are you hoping to get your mitts on it in the future? Or is another open-source OS unnecessary and confusing. Open up in the comments or in our Facebook wall.