Mobile carriers that have committed to supporting Firefox OS, include Sprint in the U.S., Germany's Deutsche Telekom, Abu Dhabi's Etisalat, Smart Communications in the Philippines, Italy's Telecom Italia, Spain's Telefonica and Norway's Telenor.
Both mobile OS's appear to be headed for low- or mid-priced smartphones, according to several analysts. Strategy Analytics has predicted that Firefox will capture 1% of the global smartphone market in 2013.
IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said that both Firefox and Sailfish will catch on "very slowly." The new Oses will be competing in a market dominated by Android and iOS, while the market for phones using the Windows Phone OS gains steam and BlackBerry 10 smartphones are due to launched on Jan. 30.
"For now, it seems like a lot of talk but not much to show," said Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner analyst. "I think 2013 will see vendors and carriers looking at these OS alternatives primarily driven by a need not to put all their future in Google's hands."
She said some of the new OS's might end up in white-label devices, which are made by the same manufacturer and offered by various carriers.
The launch of smartphones running Firefox and Sailfish will be followed with interest by the top four smartphone OS makers, said William Dudley, group director of product management for SAP. Dudley follows mobile industry trends and made a new mobile OS in 2013 one of his top 10 mobile predictions for the year.
"There is a great deal of innovation in this industry, and I think that some in the top four will not be the top four by the end of this decade," Dudley wrote. He said that a new mobile OS in 2013 might even support apps from other operating systems.
Dudley noted in an interview that many early adopters and developers haven't been happy with early OS's. The biggest downfall of Android is that it is "very fragmented" across a variety of makers, he said.
Firefox will be distinguished by its reliance on HTML 5, which will draw in developers, he said. "These four [incumbent OS's] can't rest on their laurels," Dudley said. "Somebody will get a piece of their pie."