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Firefox OS for phones is shipping, and it is impressive

Time to eat crow about the Firefox OS, which I mocked when it was first announced.

There are a few Linux-based Phone operating systems out there working hard toward an eventual release – and, hopefully, some actual phone hardware that they'll ship with. Sailfish, Tizen, Ubuntu Touch...they're all looking to snag a piece of the smartphone pie.

But Firefox OS...that little beauty is actually shipping. Like right now. From actual phone carriers. Really-real (technical term) carriers.

Okay, sure. You need to live in Spain or Poland to buy one (either the “ZTE Open” from Telefonica or the “Alcatel One Touch Fire” from Deutsche Telekom). But still. Shipping! And they're pretty doggone cheap too; the “Open” is running for roughly $89 USD, and the “One Touch” for about 30 cents).

RELATED: Ubuntu Touch: First look at the Linux smartphone OS 

These aren’t developer units. There isn’t an image that can be flashed onto a pre-existing unlocked phone that originally shipped with a different OS. But a phone pre-loaded with Firefox OS. This is a pretty major milestone – one that the Firefox OS crew should be quite proud of.

And there are more releases on the way across a number of countries (including Germany, Brazil and Venezuela). No word on a U.S. release of a phone shipping with Mozilla's little Linux-powered beauty, so those of you in Spain or Poland get out there and buy – that way it's enough of a success to give us yanks across the pond (that's a phrase, right?) a chance to buy one of these bad boys.

Truth be told: I'm impressed. When I first heard about FirefoxOS, I made fun of it. I mean, who needs another Open Source, 100% web-based phone Operating System? Didn't we get enough of that with WebOS?

Jump forward to today and I really need to eat my shoe. The team has delivered a quality, gorgeous-looking phone experience. And its “app” ecosystem is already starting to gain serious momentum (thanks, in large part, to their usage of/dependence on HTML5/JS as the primary software development stack). The Firefox Marketplace is already up to 1,260 apps available.

Even if you consider only 1 percent of those apps to be of a good quality, that's still a lot of apps for such a young platform.

Impressive. Damned impressive.

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