Firefox OS bringing $25 smart devices to emerging markets

With the appetite for smartphones growing all the time in emerging markets, the field could be shaken up by Mozilla’s announcement of a low-cost device aimed at these regions.

Spreadtrum has announced WCDMA and EDGE turnkey reference designs for Firefox OS as well as the industry’s first chipset for US$25 smartphones - the SC6821 - that redefines the entry level for smartphones in key growth markets.  These solutions are already creating a stir, with global operators such as Telenor, Telkomsel and Indosat, and ecosystem partners such as Polytron, T2Mobile and Thundersoft expressing interest.

“In six short months, Firefox OS has more than established itself in the very markets it aimed to address,” said John Jackson, VP of Mobility Research, IDC.  “New products, tools, categories, partners, features, and extraordinarily compelling price points will reinforce Firefox OS's momentum into 2014. IDC expects year-on-year Firefox OS volumes will grow by a factor of six times in the smartphone category alone.”

Firefox OS devices are the first devices built entirely to open Web standards, with every feature developed as an HTML5 application. The flexibility, scalability and powerful customisation offered by the OS can empower users, developers and industry partners to create the exact mobile experience they want. Carriers can easily and deeply customise the interface and develop localised services that match the unique needs of their customer base.

Jay Sullivan, chief operating officer of Mozilla, said: “People in Latin America and Eastern Europe have eagerly upgraded from their feature phones to Firefox OS smartphones and now have rich access to the Web and apps. In 2014, we are differentiating our user experience and our partners are growing the portfolio of devices. We are also enabling a whole new category of smartphone, priced around $25, that will bring even more people around the world online.”

At Mobile World Congress, the firm noted that its Firefox OS would be expanding into new markets in 2014. Telefónica will offer devices that support the platform in a number of Latin American countries this year, including Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Germany, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama.

In addition, Deutsche Telekom will launch Firefox OS phones in four Central & Eastern European markets - Croatia, the Czech Republic, Macedonia and Montenegro. Asian operators Telkomsel and Indosat have pledged support for the open Web device initiative, joining other major global service providers.

Alistair Johnston, Director of Marketing for Telkomsel, said “Telkomsel will support Mozilla with its Spreadtrum turnkey solution and device partner as an attempt to bring the smartphone to the palm of every Indonesian and to perform Telkomsel strategy to speed up and enrich the DNA (Device – Network – Application) ecosystem in Indonesia.”

President Director & CEO of Indosat, Alexander Rusli, said, “Indosat as the leading communications provider in Indonesia is ready for Firefox OS smartphones based on the Spreadtrum solution. This is in line with our strategy in 2014 to provide the best experience to our customers and become the customer’s preferred choice for smartphones and smart device users.”

"Polytron is announcing the intention of supporting the manufacturing, distribution, and promotion of Firefox OS smartphones based on Spreadtrum’s latest solution.” said Mr. Hariono, CEO of Polytron, Indonesia’s leading mobile device brand.

Nick Dillon, senior analyst at Ovum believes: “With this deal the company is aiming to harness the momentum it has had since the launch of its first commercial devices in July 2013 to push down into even lower price points.”

Dillon continues: “The companies plan to leverage Firefox OS's lightweight footprint and Spreadtrum's expertise in designing low-cost chipsets to build a reference design for $25 handsets. This is a price point currently out of the reach of Google and even the lowest-cost Android handset vendors. It pushes Firefox OS into feature-phone territory, potentially signalling the beginning of the end for the category.”



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