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Telefónica partners with Line on messaging app for Firefox OS

Telefónica has signed a deal with Japanese voice and messaging app developer Line to put the company’s app on Firefox OS devices.

The Line application is now available in the Firefox OS Marketplace, and smartphones with the app pre-installed will become available during the first quarter. Telefónica will also include Line in OS updates delivered to its existing users, the operator said.

The app will be available exclusively to Telefónica subscribers in Venezuela, Peru, Spain, Colombia, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico.

The availability of apps has become a key ingredient for any smartphone OS that wants to be successful. With the Line deal, Telefónica is going down the same road as, for example, Nokia by working more directly with important developers to increase app availability.

Line is a good partner for Telefónica: In November the company said it had 300 million registered users. However, competing messaging applications WhatsApp and Skype are still not available for Firefox OS. Line is available for Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone and Nokia’s Asha platform. It is also available for Windows and Mac OS X.

Around 390,000 Firefox OS phones shipped last year, according to IDC, a figure it expects to rise to 2.5 million this year. That will give Firefox OS a 0.2 percent share of the total smartphone market, IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo said via email.

That isn’t very impressive, but is still better than competing new OSes such as Tizen and Ubuntu, which aren’t even running on commercial phones yet.

In addition to Telefónica, Norwegian operator Telenor and Deutsche Telekom are also selling smartphones based on Firefox OS.

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