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Foxconn signs on to build Firefox OS devices for clients

'Wide-ranging partnership' with Mozilla announced

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Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn, best known in the West for assembling Apple's iPhones, has announced its support for the Mozilla Foundation's web standards–based Firefox OS.

The gizmo-maker said at a press event in Taipei on Monday that it had entered into "a wide-ranging partnership" with Mozilla, though no specific plans were announced.

"Because of our shared vision, we are excited to work with Mozilla," Young Liu, general manager of Foxconn's Innovation Digital System Business Group, said in a statement. "Firefox OS from Mozilla is based on HTML5 and open web technologies. The whole idea perfectly matches to the strategies promoted by Foxconn. We believe that the integration of software and hardware development will offer greater benefits to our customers and consumers."

Mozilla, the nonprofit responsible for the cross-platform Firefox browser, has been developing Firefox OS as an open source alternative to proprietary smartphone platforms from the likes of Apple and Google.

The first Firefox OS phones shipped in April from Spanish startup Geeksphone, but they were aimed at software developers, rather than consumers. The first wave of consumer devices is expected to arrive later this year in select markets, including Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela. 

Foxconn, meanwhile, has been looking to diversify its business after a significant slowdown in orders from Apple led it to post a 19.1 per cent revenue drop in its most recent quarter.

In May, the Taiwanese firm was said to be collaborating with Mozilla to develop a tablet based on Firefox OS, but Monday's announcement was the first time the two companies publicly confirmed that plans for Firefox-powered devices are underway.

"Currently, Foxconn is executing on a vision of 'eight screens, one network, and one cloud' with all our strength," Liu said. "Besides the native advantages of hardware manufacturing, Foxconn is also developing a brand new integrated approach to providing hardware, software, content, and services."

One thing the device maker won't be doing, however, is marketing Firefox OS devices under its own brand. Instead, it will help its clients to build products based on the open source OS, including phones, tablets, and potentially other devices, such as smart TVs.

Monday's announcement gave no time frame as to when the first Firefox OS device built by Foxconn might be ready to market. ®

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