ZTE to launch Firefox OS smartphone, not webOS | webOS Nation

ZTE to launch Firefox OS smartphone, not webOS 26

by Derek Kessler Wed, 19 Sep 2012 11:32 am EDT

ZTE to launch Firefox OS smartphone, not webOS

Brace for the truth bucket of cold water, folks, for it's coming in hard and fast. It's been a long time since we've had to deal with Taiwanese electronics 'news' outlet Digitimes on our pages here at webOS Nation, but today we find them in our sights. What has brought on the truth bucket this morning? Digitimes published a 131-word piece today that claims Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE plans to launch an Open webOS-based smartphone in the fourth quarter of this year. Problem is, that's not true in any way, form, or fashion.

Well, there is a tiny nugget of truth in the report that snowballed into this wrongness, and it is that ZTE plans to launch a new smartphone on a new operating system in the coming months. Problem is, ZTE's smartphone is going to run Firefox OS, not Open webOS. This news has been widely reported today, and in case you're doubting the report from a reputable organization like Reuters, ZTE cross-posted it onto their own press center website.

How did this news turn into a report that ZTE was going to produce a webOS smartphone? Poor machine translation. ZTE Executive Vice President He Shiyou was interviewed yesterday Sohu.com and C114, in which he discussed ZTE's smartphone plans. The problem is that the interview was conducted and published in Chinese, and automated machine translataions still aren't what they need to be to handle transcribed Chinese speech. What we ended up with was multiple mentions of "a web OS", which some - Digitimes included - have taken to literally mean HP's open source project-in-progress webOS.

Except that He was talking about Firefox OS as a web-based operating system. Things were further muddled in the machine translation when Sohu's interviewer brought up Palm, HP, and webOS, though He never mentioned our even referred to favored operating system. He did do a lot of talking about how web-based operating systems like Firefox OS (and webOS)  have great potential thanks to their open source base on web technologies. But webOS specifically? No, He did not.

Firefox OS does look interesting, and it even seems to have brewed in some of the webOS user interface, lifting almost verbatim the card-based multitasking application management scheme introduced and apparently popularized by webOS back in 2009. webOS and Firefox do share commonalities in that they're both dependent upon web technologies like HTML5 and CSS, but the similarities don't extend all the way to the core. Where webOS is build off of WebKit, Firefox OS is based off of Mozilla's also open source Gecko rendering engine.

The word of the day is prudence. With outlets like Digitimes it's always beneficial to set aside your excitement and check if there's anything to back up their claims before rushing to re-publish it yourself. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. In this case, our gut check said "Wait a minute..." and in the end we were able to determine that they got it wrong, misinterpreting the stated facts and public knowledge, resulting in a headline that's just flat out wrong. And that's something we just don't need.


Source: Digitimes, C114, Sohu.com; Thanks to Marg for the tip!


Too bad, thanks for the correction.

As an aside, I never "hated" HP, just prefer other vendors to them. That could change though, if they make the webOS situation whole--mean provide a way near term for OEMS to choose open webOS for mobile as well as give webs-ports viable path to port to hardware.

I must admit, as a long term webOS user, FirefoxOS is the only one of the operating systems to worry me. Why? Because I, among many, put a lot of stock in Mozilla and it's feasible that it will be the webOS killer. Before you say webOS is already dead, it's on life support n Firefox may pull the plug

Really? Not only do you believe that it's still alive, but you worry that THIS is what's going to kill it? Not IOS or Android, but some obscure OS on phones that will probably never see American soil?

If it was dead then places like webOSnation, webOSPorts, etc etc wouldn't exist.

Firefox has Mozilla behind it, it provides a smartphone base at a low cost that will do for any manufacturer what Symbian did for Nokia. Will this ZTE phone reach the US? Probably not but phone companies will jump all over this as a way to bring back their own models, which means that the market gets flooded with cheap smartphones. What problem did Palm have? Oh yeah, getting phone companies to take them seriously. With Firefox phones, the market will get harder to break in because unless you have a huge name behind you, or you're willing to run at a loss, they won't give a damn.

I guess Firefox OS it's not related to the possible death of webOS but it might help.. sorry to say that.
In about the same time open webOS it releasing its code Mozilla made it to almost complete their project to be presented on the market.
Besides that, the point is that Firefox OS is not only backed from Mozilla, which is already the most well known open source foundation in the world, but from telco's giants and three important hardware players.
Mozilla got support from Telefonica (through its Digital hub company), from Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, Sprint (that could introduce it in USA) and others. Qualcomm has already signed in to produce the necessary chips and ZTE and TLC (Alcatel) giants are going to make the first devices.
It's important to notice the Firefox OS development it's totally open and it's focused on giving a platform where telcos can play a ruling role without having to deal with the wishes of Apple and Google. That makes it a hit.
First appointment it's in Brazil through Vivo (owned by Telefonica) and it might soon see the shelves in other south american countries through Movistar, in Europe (Spain, Italy..), in Africa and Middle East (Etisalat) and Philippines (Smart). They are all together hundred milions people countries' market and the support Firefox OS is having it's clearly huge. I guess the only open source development who received such a support was Android before this one, through the OHA.
At this point i "fear" Firefox OS might quickly become a threaten not only to rising platforms as open webOS is, but also to Windows Phone and Blackberry.

@webOSnomad i just viewed this video on youtube and SERIOUSLY!! this looks like a ripoff of iphone material clean concepts using android, webos based!!! WTF man WTF!!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfhmZX8AG0M here's the link! LONG LIVE WEBOS...can someone save it please!!??? How come if webOS is HTML5 and CCS supported, it can't do or never did what this firefoxOS will do? I feel like dying right now...this could be who may pull the plug like you said. :(

@exeicker I agree the Mozilla Firefox mobile OS seems to be designed to change because of lawsuits. Perhaps it's a press strategy, seeing as each court case will shine a light on the OS. A terrible one if it is, however I wouldn't be surprised to see that this is why they have chosen to use clearly patented methods like Slide to unlock. Problem with the strategy is that they need success for Apple to bother reacting.

As for the question about Mozilla killing webOS, I don't believe it. There is no reason why this new OS would have any more negative impact on webOS than Openmoko had, at least as long as they do not aggressively go after the few people still dedicated to get a version of webOS on a new handset.

Why worry about a Firefox OS being a problem for webOS when the really big problem for webOS is HP! Nobody, but nobody, can kill technology better than HP. They are #1 in that field!

webOS was dead long before HP took over.

not true at all

Correct. If the Pre would have been a hit things would have been very different.

Wow! That is a crazy direct rip off of WebOS. I guess they assume since the Playbook had a similar interface and RIM wasn't sued by HP, then they can too.

If I recall correctly, the Pre WAS a hit, but only to/with the limited population that it was offered. The real problem was that Palm...with their limited resources...made a poor decision to give 6-month exclusivity with the Pre to Sprint, a minority market share carrier (still). Some build quality issues with the initial round of Pres as well as the limited application growth didn't help things either.

The blunt truth is that the vast majority of consumers (90%+?) have never even heard of, let alone used, a webOS device. I truly think that had HP invested a little more time and money in to webOS, it's path (and success) would be significantly different.

All we can hope for is webOS becomes very advanced through open source (LunaCE is awesome) and keeps getting better. Then a year or two down the road it would be modern & ready to compete better and perhaps a hardware source makes a device.

Being a webOS fan, I have mostly become accustom to horrible news. I feel like I was born, flicked, scratched, stabbed, gutted, then my head chopped off, then had my head kicked around, then eatten by a pig. lol.

Too many wack OS's in the market! This only bring webOS lower I'm value.
That's not even competition but rather a bump in the road to success for webOS. People are gunna think webOS is just one of them OS.

So this is a six paragraph post about a typo? Kind of overdoing it bro.

It's not really a bucket of truth when most people knew the corrected story before the Digitimes report of an Open webOS phone. Just saying.

I guess I don't really care anymore if webOS is packaged with new phones. I never purchased a PC packaged with Linux, either, but that didn't stop me from putting Linux on a machine and wiping out whatever was there (or dual booting). I really, really like the option of a mobile OS that I can put on whatever phone I want, and ditch whatever privacy invading/locked down/crippled proprietary piece of junk they put on it in the first place. I hate paying for something that I'll throw away immediately, but it's awesome to have options to get rid of something I do not want to use.

And if a phone's hardware is locked down to running one OS by carefully guarding the secrets of their hardware drivers to make their OS partner happy, then screw 'em. That's one phone I can tick off my list of phones I'd buy.

"privacy invading/locked down/crippled proprietary piece of junk they put on it in the first place." You go bro - tell em!

I too look forward to that possibility, when it's time for the Pre3 to retire.

Hopefully the independent teams working on the options will make it as easy as it is installing Linux on a PC, and that they will be able to make it so we do not have to give up the phones features. A webOS phone with NFC would be nice in a year or so.

In this interview video, ZTE VP did clearly said "webOS". There is no translation problem involved here. http://it.sohu.com/20120918/n353382300.shtml

A major Chinese tech press also indicated that ZTE is planning on BOTH webOS based and Firefox OS based smartphone in Q4 this year and early next year.

Hmmmm...the plot thickens.

Yes, it is a plot. Engadget said it is "webOS" and pointed out that ZTE was a bit vague when asked whether it was the webOS from Palm. The guess is that ZTE tried to be vague as they have done a lots of the modification on the source code. Rumor said ZTE started the project in April or May. Maybe their source code is based on the webOS 3.0.5 community edition, not the open webOS.


Aside from that, Firefox OS doesn't impress me all that much. The Gecko engine has always had serious performance issues. WebKit always beat it in pure performance, and even though webOS was based off it, every time a new webOS device was released reviewers complained about performance. Firefox OS is about 4 years newer and undoubtedly will have a lot of the same performance issues that webOS 1 had. If a random Chinese company wants to gamble on it, that's fine. I've always been a fan of Mozilla, but bottom line to me is that webOS is more mature and is based on better fundamental components.

I'll become a believer in Firefox OS when it can open 50 cards and have most of them still usable and loading properly in the background. At that point, I'll consider it the KDE to webOS/Luna/Enyo's Gnome (Okay, that's not an awesome comparison, but it's the idea that counts).

Can't say I'd even heard of ZTE until this story.

here's another video of a realtime demo:

I don't think so.

I am a Chinese and I understand Chinese very well since it's my native language. So I have watched this video, and this ZTE SVP clearly stated "WebOS", not "a WebOS". I don't need any machine translator to confuse. I believe ZTE's gonna manufacture a WebOS based smart phone and we shall see.