Mozilla's $25 Firefox Smartphone

A Mozilla reference phone, built with Spreadtrum's processor, that ultimately will hit the market as a $25 device for customers who don't have the funds for higher-end phones.  Alcatel , ZTE, and Huawei  also released smartphone and tablet with Firefox OS

BARCELONA -- Mozilla doubled down on its bet that low-end smartphones will give Firefox OS a place in the crowded mobile market, announcing partnerships Sunday that will bring $25 smartphones to the large number of people who can't afford high-end models like Apple's iPhone 5S and Samsung's Galaxy S5 that cost hundreds of dollars.
At the Mobile World Congress here, Mozilla announced a deal with Chinese chip designer Spreadtrum Communications that will mean Firefox OS smartphones will arrive in extremely cost-sensitive markets like India and Indonesia where people often buy phones from a bin in a store.
"We're working with them to break through the $50 barrier, which is hard," Mozilla Chief Technology Officer Brendan Eich told CNET. "This is going to be for a set of [sales] channels in Asia that do not involve operators," the carriers that in other parts of the world dominate distribution.
One company that plans to make and promote the phones is Indonesia-based Polytron. And Indonesian carriers Telkomsel and Indosat plan to sell the devices. Hands-on testing shows the cheap Firefox OS phones to be workable. "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 signaling the beginning of the end for the category," said Ovum analyst Nick Dillon in a statement.

Firefox OS takes on challenges
Today, Apple's iOS and Google's Android dominate the market for smartphones and tablets. Challengers like Microsoft's Windows Phone, Ubuntu Touch, WebOS, BlackBerry OS, and Samsung's Tizen have struggled to push these aside: it's hard to compete against an incumbent that's got millions of users, hundreds of thousands of apps, and few signs of the complacency that can open a door for challengers.
Firefox OS won't have an easy time of it. There's not as much money to be squeezed from low-end markets, so developers aren't as likely to pursue it as avidly. The Spreadtrum chipset will support only 2.5G Edge mobile networks that, while common in poorer parts of the world, are too slow for a lot of modern apps. And Google is pushing toward lower-end phones, with Android 4.4 memory-saving techniques that fit KitKat into phones with 512MB of RAM.
At the same time, though, Firefox is pushing, too. It uses the same ZRAM memory compression technique to halve its memory requirement to 128MB of memory, Eich said.
Getting down to $25 phones means Firefox OS will provide an alternative for people who'd otherwise buy a feature phone -- a model with a few built-in apps but not much more.
So Firefox has a chance there. But in the long run, to succeed, Firefox OS will need to push up-market, and it's not clear how Mozilla will succeed there with much stronger competition.

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About Jaime Lacson

A Freelance Computer Tech with knowledge about computer, router and mobile phones, especially in Upgrade and Downgrade OS, Software and Hardware troubleshooting. follow me at Google+
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