Panasonic Outs World’s First Firefox Smart TV

17 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Panasonic Begins Selling The First Firefox OS-Powered Smart TVs, Initially In Europe.

More than a year after revealing its plans to build Firefox OS televisions with Panasonic, the first fruits of Mozilla’s tie-up with the electronics giant have gone to market. Mozilla announced this morning that six models of Panasonic TVs running its new OS are starting to ship in Europe, with global availability arriving in “the coming months.” It’s hard to actually find the TVs online, but the two models that did turn up — the 50-inch CX700 and the 40-inch CX680 — were selling for £999 (around US $1,570) and £791 (around US $1,240). Panasonic is Mozilla’s launch partner, and the electronics company’s latest line of Viera smart TVs includes six that are powered by Firefox OS — CR850, CR730, CX800, CX750, CX700 and CX680 — including Panasonic’s first curved LED LCD TV.

Panasonic finally started showing them in January, and on first sight, they look pretty good — certainly much better than the interface that Panasonic was previously using. The full global launch of the TVs is expected “in the coming months.” First unveiled back in 2012, Firefox OS was originally designed as an alternative operating system for smartphones and tablets. The companies say these models, or variants of them, will be come to other international markets in the “coming months.” The smart TV space is a tricky one, particularly since Firefox OS smartphones have made little-to-no inroad among consumers who might be in the market for a new tele.

Nonetheless, with Mozilla’s HTML5-based platform, Panasonic said its TVs support web apps — Mozilla has seeded APIs to help developers build for the platform — alongside other web-based content, channel favoriting, and interactions with other devices. Mozilla said Firefox OS provides “more choice and control to users, developers, operators and hardware manufacturers” — but Google’s Android TV, and its much-speculated future plans, are the elephant in the room when it comes to smart TV volume and attention from developers. That too is starting to heat up though, with Google’s omnipresent Android operating system starting to show up on a handful of smart TV devices, and Samsung making moves in the space with its Tizen operating system. This is designed to make it easier for developers to port existing web applications and services over to Firefox OS, and the likes of YouTube and Netflix already provide apps for the operating system.

Whether Firefox OS ultimately sinks or swims on smart TVs remains to be seen, but with a giant such as Panasonic on board, Mozilla’s in good company.

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