Chinese handset maker ZTE plans to launch the much-touted Mozilla-powered smartphone to European consumers this year, the company has told journalists at the CES Show.

The 2013 timescale for a Firefox OS is not a complete surprise. In September, the company talked up an imminent launch when it showed the software running on one of its phones.

What is perhaps a surprise is that it sees Europe – and possibly the US - as a prime market so soon into the development cycle.

"We closely monitor the ecosystem and how it evolves," ZTE’s US CEO, Cheng Lixin told Bloomberg. "If that is ready and if consumer studies support that data, then we may launch one in US also this year."

ZTE’s motivation was to reduce its reliance on Android, Cheng added.

The Mozilla OS began life in 2011 as ‘Boot to Gecko’ before being soft-launched during 2012 as the Firefox OS.

Since then not much has happened bar Telefónica O2 Europe head Matthew Key describing the software as being superior to Android for the budget handsets that will be its target market.

As with ZTE, Key also underlined that the network did not want to become over-reliance on the Android steamroller that could eventually turn them into a cheap distribution channel.

Interestingly, the idea of using rival Linux-based operating systems has also struck the world’s number one smartphone maker Samsung as a god idea, with the Korean giant announcing plans to launch models based on Tizen.

Meanwhile, Canonical has used CES to show off its well-trailed idea of turning Ubuntu into a converged desktop-smartphone OS.

Google’s ability to challenge Apple has got it to the top but increasingly handset and networks makers look determined to avoid the fate of the PC industry in the 19990s, which eneded up utterly dominated by the Wintel duopoly that has taken two fully decades to challenge.