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LG turning to Firefox OS for developing markets, whither webOS?

Oh, LG.

You own outright a perfectly good mobile operating system with years of development behind it and small but active and supportive open source and developer communities. We can understand still running with Android for your flagship smartphones for now - it's helping pay the bills and all. And we can understand that you're dedicated to putting webOS on your smart TVs and maybe other stuff later on, but we're having trouble wrapping our heads around this one… Firefox OS. Really, guys?

Don't get us wrong, Firefox OS looks to be a potentially fine operating system, but it's starting from scratch. New webOS hardware might essentially be starting from scratch as far as developer support and consumer awareness are concerned, but it's had four solid years of development to get it where it is. webOS is proven to work, in spite of the lackluster advertising campaigns and gross corporate neglect and mismanagement.

So LG's going forward with Firefox OS, but in keeping with the low-power hardware intentions behind the building of Firefox OS, the company plans to launch in South America by the middle of the year and eventually expand to Eastern Europe. A company spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that "LG's planned launch of Firefox phones is a means to meet diversifying consumer needs, but this doesn't indicate any shift away from Android."

Firefox OS' low-power model means cheaper handsets, which is appealing in less wealthy countries like those LG's targeting. Cheaper smartphones like old BlackBerry models and Symbian handsets have flourished in these markets while the powerful hardware needed to run the likes of iOS, Android, and Windows Phone hasn't found much traction thanks to the increased price of such hardware.

We know nobody's looking for proof that LG's not planning on making new webOS smartphones any time soon, but this certainly won't help anybody's case in the matter. Android will continue to occupy the high end of LG's smartphone business, while Firefox OS is set to take the low end in developing markets. It's a niche that webOS could potentially fill - these are customers that aren't aware of the drama that's surrounded webOS for for much of its existence, nor would we expect them to care. It just has to work, and that's something we know webOS to do (albeit it at this point it could stand to be polished and updated a bit to modern standards).

Maybe there's a slot somewhere in the middle that webOS can occupy…