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Sony releases Firefox OS software for developers

But the company still hasn't decided if it will do a commercial phone or not

Sony Mobile will provide an experimental version of the Firefox OS on one of its smartphones so that advanced developers can try it out and start working on applications.

Earlier this week, Sony said it is evaluating the Firefox OS platform for use on future smartphones. To show its current progress, the company is now providing an experimental version to run on the Xperia E, it said in a blog post on Wednesday that also details how to install the software.

The OS is being pitched as a better alternative to Android for low-end smartphones in developing markets and is built for applications written using HTML5.

The first phones using the OS are all powered by Qualcomm processors and will be offered by Alcatel One Touch, LG Electronics and ZTE starting this summer, according to Mozilla. Huawei Technologies also said it will also come out with products later this year.

Sony is taking a more cautions approach, and has said it will "investigate emerging technologies such as the Firefox OS platform to extend Sony's premium product portfolio to a wider customer base" with Telefónica, which is a big proponent of Mozilla's OS.

The software isn't intended for daily use, and has several limitations. For example, there is no radio connectivity, which means developers cannot make any phone calls or use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Also, the touch sensitivity is not fully calibrated, according to Sony.

The Xperia E has a 3.5-inch screen and is powered by 1GHz processor, which is the same spec as ZTE's first Firefox OS-based smartphone, the Open.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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