Mozilla has launched Keon and Peak, two smartphones based on the web-centric Firefox OS platform.

Mozilla has launched Keon and Peak, two smartphones based on the web-centric Firefox OS platform.

The first phones will start shipping in February, and have been developed in cooperation with Spanish operator Telefónica and Geeksphone, which is based in Madrid.

No pricing has been announced, but Firefox OS has been pitched as low-cost competitor to Android. It can deliver a far better experience than Android at handset price points of roughly $100, Telefónica said last year.

The specifications provided by Mozilla also hint at low price tags. The Keon is powered by a 1GHz processor, has a 3.5-inch touchscreen and a 3-megapixel camera. The Peak is more powerful with its dual-core 1.2GHz processor. It also has a 4.3-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel camera on the front.

Both models have 4GB of integrated storage which can be expanded using a MicroSD card. They can connect to the internet using HSPA or 802.11n, have GPS and a number of sensors.

Firefox OS is one of a number of new smartphone operating systems that are relying heavily on web technologies. Besides Mozilla's platform there is also RIM's BlackBerry 10, Canonical's Ubuntu for phones, Sailfish from upstart Jolla, and Tizen, which is backed by Samsung Electronics and Intel.

The idea with Firefox OS is for all user-accessible software running on the phone to be web apps. In Firefox OS, HTML5 apps can make the phone vibrate, make a phone call or send a text message, Mozilla said.

The goal with Keon and Peak is to show developers how easy it is to create an app based on HTML5 for the new OS. They can create an app for Firefox OS by making some small changes to an existing website.

Developers are key to Mozilla's hopes for Firefox OS to boost the popularity of Web technologies. The fact that Firefox OS already has support from the likes of Telefónica and ZTE gives it a chance, according to Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics.

Nick Dillon, senior analyst at Ovum, was more cautious about the prospects. "Much like Chrome OS in the desktop, Firefox OS is an interesting academic exercise that will test the limits of what is currently possible with mobile web technologies. However, a web-only Firefox OS will not facilitate a dramatic change in the approach to mobile application development. There is already good support for HTML5 web technologies on the existing major smartphone platforms, meaning that there is little need for another platform in order to drive their adoption forward.

"Another significant barrier to the success of Firefox OS will be cost. The Firefox OS devices will be targeted at emerging markets, where they will be competing with low to mid-tier Android devices. From a consumer perspective, the Firefox OS devices will offer less functionality than comparable Android devices, without access to embedded Google services and the hundreds of thousands of third-party applications available on Android devices."