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América Móvil carries Mozilla's Firefox OS to Mexico

The company's Telcel subsidiary will sell Alcatel One Touch phones with Mozilla's browser-based operating system.

Alcatel's One Touch Fire E
Alcatel's One Touch Fire E Sarah Tew/CNET

Mozilla has a new partner, América Móvil, a carrier that will spread its Firefox OS mobile operating system to Mexico.

The nonprofit organization is developing the smartphone OS as an attempt to counter some of the power of Google and Apple in the mobile market. Mobile operators and handsets are crucial to the effort, and América Móvil has begun selling Alcatel's One Touch Fire line of Firefox OS phones through its Telcel brand, Mozilla said Tuesday.

At the Mobile World Congress conference in February, Alcatel announced a trio of Firefox OS phones: the One Touch Fire S , Fire E , and Fire C . The phones are lower-end models -- though a step up from the single One Touch Fire that began the Firefox OS push in 2013. Ultimately Firefox will have to compete more directly against iOS and Android, but for now, Mozilla is trying to find a foothold in cost-sensitive markets where people are getting their first taste of smartphones.

"With this launch, we will offer our users a new way of experiencing the possibilities that a smartphone has to offer, with affordable pricing and the experience of a Firefox OS operating system," said Marco Quatorze, director of value-added services for América Móvil-Telcel, in a statement Tuesday. "We are certain that this partnership with Alcatel One Touch and Mozilla will continue delivering more options to our users throughout the continent."

América Móvil joins other carriers including T-Mobile, Telefonica, and Telenor selling Firefox OS phones.

Firefox OS is a browser-based operating system that runs Web apps rather than the native apps used in Google's Android and Apple's iOS. That means developers who create mobile-friendly Web apps are effectively enlisted in Mozilla's cause even if they don't formally submit an app to the Firefox Marketplace.

Mozilla hopes its approach will loosen some of the lock-in that customers experience when joining the Android or iOS ecosystems, where choices can be restricted to what Google and Apple want to present.

Firefox OS is now available in 15 markets, Mozilla said.