Mobile Firefox OS & Wikipedia to be delivered for free via text messages

Firefox OS smartphones are coming soon and so is Wikipedia via text messages without the data charges.

Mozilla has created an open platform for mobile phones that "is an extension of the Firefox experience you know and love so you can expect all the security, privacy, customization and user control Firefox has always delivered." 

Firefox OS smartphones "are the first built entirely to open Web standards, enabling every feature to be developed as an HTML5 application. Web apps access every underlying capability of the device, bypassing the typical hindrances of HTML5 on mobile to deliver substantial performance. The platform's flexibility allows carriers to easily tailor the interface and develop localized services that match the unique needs of their customer base."

Mozilla is also launching the Firefox Marketplace; the OS is supposed "to enable app discovery without download." That may be why Mozilla Chief Executive Gary Kovacs tweaked "there's an app for that" to "There's a Web for that." Regarding the Firefox Marketplace, "Most mobile apps are built with Web technologies at the core and then wrapped in a proprietary technology to distribute the app on a specific platform. Mozilla is unlocking the Web as a mobile development platform with Firefox Marketplace and unwrapping mobile apps to enable more opportunity and control for developers and consumers."

Jay Sullivan, Mozilla Senior Vice President of Products, added "Firefox OS will break down the walls between apps and the Web because Firefox OS apps are built using Web technologies, like HTML5. We expect to see lots of amazing apps people love built for Firefox OS because more developers are already creating for the Web than for any other platform."

Kovacs added, "Firefox OS brings the freedom and unbounded innovation of the open Web to mobile users everywhere. With the support of our vibrant community and dedicated partners, our goal is to level the playing field and usher in an explosion of content and services that will meet the diverse needs of the next two billion people online."

At the Mobile World Congress, Mozilla announced 18 wireless carriers will support the Firefox OS: América Móvil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Three Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia Group, Telefónica, Telenor, Telstra, TMN and VimpelCom. Firefox OS devices will be made by "Alcatel (TCL), Huawei, LG and ZTE to build the first Firefox OS devices, all powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset." Although Samsung snubbed the Firefox OS, Sony confirmed it will bring Firefox OS to the handset market in 2014. Twitter said it was "excited about the future of Firefox OS."

Mobile World Congress 2013 disappointing?

Here's a peak at some of what mobile will offer in the future.

Businessweek said gadget fans left grumbling from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona due to the lack of stunning products. Yet folks who cannot afford an iPhone, or high-end Android or Windows Phone, might be pleased to see "thrifty" smartphones. Maybe Firefox OS will be featured on some of those "affordable" phones?

Wikipedia to be delivered for free via text messages

Speaking of people in developing countries who might not be able to cough-up the mula for data charges, Wikimedia Foundation signed up a fourth mobile carrier, VimpelCom, for Wikipedia Zero." According to the Wikimedia blog, "In 2012, the Wikimedia Foundation signed Wikipedia Zero partnerships with three mobile operators, which is bringing free Wikipedia access to 230 million mobile users in 31 countries. In January of 2013, we signed a fourth partnership that extends Wikipedia Zero to at least 100 million more mobile users in five more countries."

Wikipedia Zero is breaking down the digital divide and making barriers to knowledge obsolete. "We're very excited about delivering Wikipedia via text, which we expect to roll out within the next few months. With the program, users will send a text request to Wikipedia and, within seconds, they will get the article to their phone. To deliver this innovative technology, we're partnering with the Praekelt Foundation, a nonprofit based in Johannesburg, South Africa."

Furthermore, "80% of all new mobile phone subscribers are in developing countries, according to the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union. For now, of the 25 countries that have the highest rate of mobile traffic on Wikipedia, 22 are developing countries. The top eight countries are all in Africa."

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