Chinese communication company ZTE announced Monday that it will soon bring its Firefox OS smartphone called "Open" to the U.S. and U.K. The ZTE Open will only be sold on ZTE's eBay store for just $79.99. The ZTE Open will be unlocked so it can work on all mobile networks.
The ZTE Open is the first smartphone running on the Firefox OS, and one of the first devices completely powered by Web technologies. ZTE launched the ZTE Open last month with Telefónica last month in Spain, Venezuela and Colombia.
“The global availability of the ZTE Open through eBay means that more consumers worldwide are now able, for the first time, to buy an affordable smartphone based entirely on open Web standards,” ZTE said on its website, adding that Firefox OS frees developers, service providers and consumers from closed mobile ecosystems like Apple iOS.
“Mozilla is dedicated to moving the Web forward as a platform for innovation and building products that people love,” Dr. Li Gong, Mozilla’s vice president of mobile devices, said. “With a great potential user base, we know that even more developers around the world will create their apps with new APIs to stimulate an inspiring new wave of innovation.”
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The ZTE Open features a 3.5-inch touch screen, a 3.2-megapixel camera and a 4 GB micro SD card. The ZTE eBay store will exclusively sell the ZTE One in orange.
Firefox OS uses Web technologies to provide all of the essential functions of a smartphone, including calling, text messaging, emailing and taking pictures. The ZTE Open also has built-in Facebook and Twitter integration and uses Nokia HERE maps for location-based services and directions. The ZTE Open uses a Firefox Web browser to access the Internet and the Firefox Marketplace for apps.
Firefox OS also boasts a new search capability that “allows the device to adapt to the user’s changing needs.”
“For example, search for an artist and get results to buy songs, watch music videos, buy concert tickets and even listen to them instantly without have to download and install any apps,” ZTE said on its website. ZTE and Mozilla hope this will be a function to distinguish and convert users to the Firefox OS.
Offering the phone on eBay and using the Firefox OS helps ZTE bring the cost of the phone down to just $80. ZTE and Mozilla are targeting the phone at the first time smartphone user who may have avoided the devices due to cost.
Mozilla also hopes its Web-based OS will avoid some of the security weaknesses that have been exposed in Android fragmented ecosystem.
“Firefox OS also delivers the exceptional security, privacy, customization and user control that people have come to expect from the Firefox Web browser,” ZTE said.