Tonight, Mozilla is demonstrating the first commercial build of Firefox Mobile OS and has announced the support of several carriers worldwide (like Sprint, China Unicom and Deutsche Telekom just to cite a few). So far, the first retail units will be available in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela according to Mozilla, which said that more market will be announced “soon”.If you are not familiar with Mozilla Mobile OS, it is a web-based operating system that relies completely on open Web standards to create apps, which are effectively built in HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

Carriers are particularly interested in Mozilla Mobile OS, because they see it as being potentially more customizable than Android, with possibly less software tweaks required to make the changes they want. I’m not sure what they want do with it, but it’s not hard to imagine that carriers would love having more branding and plug more of their services all over… the Android handset makers have learned that what carriers want is sometime not what customers want, and have been cutting back on carrier-specific customizations as of late.

A few hardware partners who will build the first handsets

In any case, Mozilla is partnering with ZTE and Alcatel who are going to build the first hardware for this new platform and Huawei is said to be joining later this year. While both those handset makers will design and assemble the phones, they have selected Qualcomm’s Snapdragon mobile processors to power the Firefox Mobile OS experience. For Qualcomm, this is a clean-sweep design-win similar to the Windows Phone one, where Snapdragon was the only hardware supported across all devices. We’re not completely sure as for why Qualcomm was “the one”, but we guess that it can divert a portion of its vast engineering resources to this project while other hardware vendors are still focused on Android.

Firefox Mobile OS takes a radically different approach when compared to other mobile operating systems. While Android, iOS and Windows tend to use native apps to boost performance, Mozilla has chosen the web approach in a bid to federate millions of web developers who are already familiar with its technology. It’s something that others have done (or tried to do), like Palm with Web OS, except that Mozilla is taking it even farther than anything Palm did. It will be interesting to see what kind of apps come out of this and how the user experience and battery life will look like on the final products.

What do you think of an HTML-based eco-system for mobile phones? Leave your comments below.

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