Firefox OS Won't Arrive in USA Until 2014

During the D: Dive Into Mobile conference on Monday, Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs said that Firefox OS will begin rolling out in June across five countries: Venezuela, Poland, Brazil, Portugal and Spain. By the end of the year, the new mobile platform will be in an additional eleven countries, none of which will be the United States.

Unfortunately, North Americans looking to purchase a local smartphone packed with Mozilla's new Firefox OS won't see them on the market until 2014. Why? Because unlike the rest of the world, Silicon Valley sees everything through high-end devices, he said.

"In the short term, we’re launching in emerging markets where Firefox is particularly strong," he said. "It didn’t make sense for us to launch a version-one device around the world."

The comments were made during an on-stage Q&A with hosts Ina Fried and Walt Mossberg. During the session, Ina asked a very important question: why would someone choose a Firefox OS device over a low-end Android phone? Kovacs' response wasn't exactly direct, and came in the form of the rollout plan.

"In the early days -- by the way, we're talking about a version 1.0 product -- our whole mission is to stimulate the ecosystem, just like we did with the desktop browser," he said. "Once the standards were set, connected users exploded. In the short term, it'll be brand appeal -- we're launching in areas where Firefox has good brand recognition."

Thus, by the time Mozilla is ready to introduce Firefox OS to the North American market, the base ecosystem will be well established and maybe even competitive with Google's Android and Apple's iOS. The biggest advantage Mozilla's platform will have over the competition will be its heavy support for HTML5 apps which will communicate directly to hardware via JavaScript. HTML5 on Android and iOS is supported via Chrome and Safari.

As reported last week, Kovacs is stepping down as Mozilla's CEO later this year after filling the position for less than three. Mozilla will begin searching for a replacement immediately, and Kovacs said he would remain on Mozilla's board once he steps down as CEO.

"The project today is led by experienced teams, set on a strong foundation financially and operationally, and with a clear path to the future," he said. "It is my confidence in this team that makes this the right time for me to move on to the next phase of my personal journey. I will stay on as an active member of Mozilla’s board of directors — so I am staying within the family to help as much as I can."

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