Get it while it’s hot

High demand for first Firefox OS phones crashes store

Elliot Bentley
firefox-os-devices1

Initial batch of developer preview handsets for Mozilla’s web-centric operating system sell out within hours.

It
seems that, even months before a commercial release, hype is
already swelling around Firefox OS. Demand for the first dedicated
Firefox OS hardware devices was so high, it managed to crash
the manufacturer’s
website
within hours of the phones going on sale.

Announced
near the start of the year
, these first models by Spanish
company Geeksphone are designed specifically for developers
interested in producing apps for Mozilla’s web-centric OS.
 They
went on sale
around 9am GMT today, with large amounts of
traffic causing errors for some buyers and “initial previsions”
selling out within three hours.

At the time of writing, the Geeksphone online store
was “shut down temporarily” for maintenance, although on Twitter
the company promised more “in a few hours”.

Consumer devices, in the works by the likes of LG,
ZTE, Huawei and TCL, are expected to launch later this year. They
will be launched in countries such as Brazil, where few can afford
existing Android and iOS devices, with Firefox OS handsets expected
to be cheaper and less powerful than traditional smartphones.

Of Geeksphone’s initial offering, the orange ‘Keon’ is
said to best reflect low-end consumer devices. The first of the two
models to sell out, it has a 3.5” screen, a Qualcomm 1Ghz processor
and 512 MB of RAM, about on par with a three-year-old iPhone 4.

These more realistic specs, along with a €91 ($118)
price tag, makes it a more interesting prospect than the ‘Peak’,
which has a larger screen and dual-core 1.2Ghz processor at a cost
of €149 ($193). Both ship with Firefox OS v1.0.1, with firmware
updates delivered over-the-air.

Firefox OS, which began life as “Boot2Gecko”, is a new
open-source operating system under development by the Mozilla
Foundation. Though based on Android, it’s distinguished by an
entirely open-source codebase and apps written in HTML, CSS and
JavaScript – including the home screen, lock screen and core
functions. Hardware features such as vibration, phone dialling and
camera are all exposed via a JavaScript API.

Developers unwilling to shell out for a Geeksphone device can
use the
Firefox OS Simulator add-on
instead.

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