Can another new operating system get traction in the global mobile service provider market? Mozilla and some service providers hope so.

Mozilla’s “Boot to Gecko” project aims to create devices that can “boot to the web,” running an HTML-based platform that works as well as other operating systems, at much-less cost, allowing production of lower-cost smart phones.

Those of you familar with Google’s Chromebooks will understand the idea. The “Open Web Devices” initiative uses the Android kernel but has an entirely new layer on top based on HTML5.

It’s essentially a complete phone system run on web technologies that gives the on-board software access to core APIs through an embedded version of Firefox. That, in turn, means all apps on the phone essentially run in the browser.

Carriers looking for new ways to inject themselves back into the revenue stream, since Apple’s iOS and Android have created independent roles within the value chain, creating a situation where end users buy based on the thrid party device first, with the choice of a service provider being a secondary consideration.

The issue is whether a brutally-competitive operating system market has room for a major new player. Telefonica is hoping so, and is backing the effort. But the key issue is whether handset suppliers want to support yet one more OS, in an environment where larger, better-backed ecosystems around WebOS, Symbian and possibly Research in Motion have struggled or failed.

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