Mozilla is reaching out to billions of people in India and Indonesia who believe that smartphone technology is beyond their financial means. Mozilla will bring its open Firefox OS to these countries in the form of a $25 smartphone with a Spreadtrum processor onboard. The smartphone will be anything if not simple, but it will offer a selection of apps, web browsing, and most of the other core features typical of a mobile OS experience.
Indian companies Index and Spice will build the $25 smartphones and then sell them in the next few months. Executives from both companies expressed their excitement about the new Firefox phones in a statement published by Mozilla on Tuesday.
“Intex is excited to announce its association with Mozilla which will enable us to develop unparalleled smart devices on the latest Firefox OS platform,” said Sanjay Kumar Kalirona, the head of mobile for Intex Technologies. “The platform will give us an edge in upgrading buyers from feature phones to smartphones while making it affordable for the mass market.”
Dilip Modi, the Co-Founder & CEO of Spice, agreed that Firefox OS would increase the average Indian’s access to smartphone technology.
“We have been the technology innovators in India’s telecom industry and are pleased to introduce Firefox OS in India through our smartphones to cater to the country’s masses. This partnership with Mozilla showcases our commitment to providing the best technological innovations first-hand to our customers,” he said, adding that “[t]hese phones will be affordably priced to ensure everyone can enjoy and experience the power of the Firefox OS phone.”
Although Firefox OS smartphones may not be as powerful as their low-cost Android competitors, their price point is hard to beat. In the United States, Firefox OS smartphones cost as little as $60. That number is being reduced by more than 50 percent in India and Indonesia, making the devices available to those who cannot afford to spend $100 on a low-cost Android smartphone, or more on a premium, high-end device like the iPhone os Samsung Galaxy lineup.
Firefox OS will allow these first-time smartphone users to browse the web and use a few of the web-based apps available on the OS. There may not be many apps available on Firefox OS, but for someone who’s never had a smartphone before, that may be just fine. Mozilla hopes to challenge Android in the low-end smartphone market by undercutting other manufacturers’ prices and advocating for an open mobile OS ecosystem. The company is also in talks with China about bringing Firefox OS devices to the Chinese people.
So far, Mozilla has launched several low-cost smartphones with Firefox OS onboard, including the $100 ZTE Open C. The company will release the Alcatel One Touch Fire E and the ZTE Open II this summer. These phones have had limited success in Europe and the United States, but Mozilla doesn’t seem to be discouraged. Perhaps emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, and China will be more accepting of Firefox OS smartphones.