HONG KONG (Reuters) - China's ZTE Corp, the world's fourth largest mobile phone handset vendor, is cooperating with Mozilla, maker of web browser Firefox, to introduce a new mobile operating system later this year or early next year, a ZTE spokesman said on Wednesday.
The move is part of ZTE's plan to diversify away from Google Inc's Android and Microsoft Corp's Windows into other operating systems. Smartphone market leader Apple Inc is embroiled in legal disputes with some handset makers running Android.
"We are trying to increase our efforts in coming up with our own operating system, while introducing products based on Android," said ZTE spokesman David Dai Shu.
"It's all part of our wider plans to create a better balance of products using various operating systems. We won't just rely on Android or Windows."
ZTE will roll out the operating system with Mozilla over the next few months, and plans to unveil a product for use in mobiles either at the same time or a little later, Dai said.
The Shenzhen-based company is also looking into Web-based operating systems, but has no immediate plans to support those developed by Chinese Internet firms such as Baidu Inc and Alibaba, he said.
The bulk of ZTE's phones run on Android, while its 'Tania' series uses Windows.
"We are working with a regional telecom carrier outside of China to unveil products based on our own operating system," Dai said, but declined to mention any names.
In July, Mozilla said mobile network operators Deutsche Telekom, Sprint, Smart, Telecom Italia, Telenor and Etisalat were backing the Firefox platform.
(Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)