Sony Might Bite the Firefox OS Bullet in 2014

On Monday, Sony Mobile announced a long-term partnership with European cellular giant Telefónica. Among the highlights of the announcement (posted below) was the setting up of a "joint technical collaboration to explore the development of a mobile handset running Firefox OS. The said device should be ready for market by 2014, according to the announcement, which goes on to reveal that Sony's engineers begun playing with Firefox OS and HTML5 to build web-based apps, which each show "great potential," according to the company.

Announced on Monday (25/02), Mozilla's Firefox OS for smartphones is being pitched as an alternative to Android. It uses 100 percent open-source code, and is being issued royalty-free to handset makers. At the Mobile World Congress, handset makers ZTE and Alcatel have already displayed their Firefox handsets, which are designed to cater to mainstream buyers.

Telefónica and Sony Mobile Communications ("Sony Mobile") today reinforced the strength of their commercial partnership in a multi-year agreement that confirms the operator's ranging support for Sony Mobile's 2013 Xperia Android device portfolio, as well as laying out a joint technical collaboration to explore the development of a handset running Mozilla's Firefox OS open source mobile platform.

Sony Mobile and Telefónica are long-term partners and Sony Mobile has in the past year steadily grown its portfolio of premium Android-based smartphones available on the Telefónica network, including the Xperia T - aka 'The Bond phone' and now the acclaimed Xperia Z smartphone and Xperia Tablet Z. Under the terms of the agreement, Telefónica and Sony Mobile will further strengthen their partnership and investigate emerging technologies such as the Firefox OS platform to extend Sony's premium product portfolio to a wider customer base.

"At Sony Mobile we continue to evaluate innovative technologies that can help deliver the premium user experiences that Sony's consumers expect," said Bob Ishida, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Head of Products Business Group, Sony Mobile Communications. "Our engineers are now working with Firefox OS Mobile and HTML5, evolving technologies which show great potential. In addition, we continue to work with our operator partners, including Telefónica, on a development project with an ambition to bring a product to market in 2014."

"Sony's Xperia Z and Xperia Tablet Z are stunning devices that really raise the bar when it comes to the premium smartphone and tablet segment- and we're delighted to be partnering to bring these to market across a number of our global channels," commented Marieta del Rivero, Group Devices Director, Telefónica. "As well as the great opportunity we have in 2013, our further collaboration around a possible device on the Firefox OS mobile platform will create the opportunity to reach new segments of the market, allowing us to provide an even wider choice of premium Sony device offerings for our customers."

Firefox OS marks a significant milestone for the industry, enabling for the first time devices to be manufactured to totally open web standards. It will provide customers with a rich, open and dynamic smartphone experience.