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Mexican carrier to use Firefox

America Movil eyes sales spike for smartphones

– America Movil, the wireless carrier controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, predicts a new smartphone running Mozilla’s Firefox operating system will help boost revenue and profit.

“The opportunities for growth are huge” as only 15 percent of the 261.6 million wireless customers of Mexico City-based America Movil use smartphones, Chief Marketing Officer Marco Quatorze said last week in an interview in Barcelona. The highest adoption rates will come from Peru and Central America, he said.

In addition to America Movil, more than a dozen other wireless carriers including Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom and Sprint Nextel are supporting an open mobile operating system by Mozilla to make a range of cheaper smartphones to counter Google’s dominance in the market with Android. Firefox-based devices may arrive as early as the second quarter, said Brendan Eich, Mozilla’s chief technology officer .

LG Electronics and Huawei Technologies will introduce smartphones running on software developed by the maker of the Firefox browser, Eich said. ZTE and TCL Communication Technology Holdings’s Alcatel One Touch brand are also planning to introduce phones, according to executives at an event on the eve of the Mobile World Congress.

The new smartphones will cost about $100, a price that “should decline in the future, which will make the device affordable for more people,” Quatorze said. Still, it will take more than two years for all its customers to have one, he said. America Movil has more mobile-phone subscribers than any other carrier in the western Hemisphere.

“Operators will benefit from a higher control of the mobile ecosystem,” Franco Bernabe, CEO of Telecom Italia, one of the carriers that have agreed to carry the devices, said last week in Barcelona.

The first Firefox OS devices will be available in Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela. For the United States, “we’ve been talking to all the operators,” Eich said.

Carriers in the alliance are trying to reduce their dependence on Android, which dominates the smartphone market with about 70 percent of shipments.

Deutsche Telekom plans to introduce the operating system in Poland this summer before expanding distribution to other eastern European markets, CEO Rene Obermann said.