While Apple is focused on spreading premium-prices smartphones across the globe, browser maker Mozilla has its sights aimed squarely on the low-cost smartphone market and has announced a deal for a chipset which it said will pave the way for $25 smartphones.
Mozilla announced at Mobile World Congress that it is partnering with Shanghai-based fabless semiconductor company Spreadtrum to come up with reference designs of the low-cost Firefox OS-powered smartphones.
CNET Gallery: Mozilla's $25 Firefox OS smartphone prototype
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.
And there's interest in these devise, with Mozilla claiming that global operators such as Telenor, Telkomsel and Indosat, and ecosystem partners such as Polytron, T2Mobile and Thundersoft are expressing interest.
At Mobile World Congress, Mozilla is showcasing its new developer reference phone, the Firefox OS Flame.
Also unveiled was the spec for the reference Firefox OS Flame, which is quite impressive:
While the spec of the cheapest devices is likely deviate somewhat from the above – which is aimed at developers – it can't deviate too much if the handsets are to run the apps that the developers end up creating.
"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. "Today’s announcements underscore the platform’s rapid maturation and growing ecosystem benefits. 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."
CNET Video: LG's first Firefox phone
Firefox OS is already available in 15 markets on three devices, but Mozilla want to expand this significantly, by entering into the Latin American markets. Also, Deutsche Telekom plans to sell models in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Macedonia and Montenegro.
On top of that – and potentially more lucrative for Mozilla – Chinese network ZTE is also planning to add two new Firefox OS-powered models to its lineup, and says it expects to shift one million of the phones by the end of the year.
Also unveiled are two reference specs for tablets.
While Mozilla's moves in the smartphone and tablet markets are unlikely to cause much more than a raised eyebrow at Cupertino the Android device makers should be a lot more worried. While Mozilla currently lacks much in the way of an ecosystem for Firefox OS, a new player could make the share of the revenue pie that the various device makers pull in smaller.