Mozilla's Firefox OS readies for Africa launch

The Mozilla Foundation has signed deals with three new operators to bring Firefox OS to the continent.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Mozilla has a new target for its Firefox OS: Africa.

Phones running the operating system have been gradually hitting various markets across Europe since last year, and have since been released in Brazil, India, and Asian markets too. Now the Mozilla Foundation is looking to expand Firefox OS' reach to Africa.

The organisation behind Firefox announced on Wednesday that operators Airtel, MTN South Africa, and Tigo have all signed up to carry Firefox OS handsets.

Tigo operates in several African markets, including Ghana, Rwanda, and Tanzania, while Airtel has a presence in markets such as Kenya and Nigeria.

Mozilla has so far not provided any details on when the phone will go on sale - apart from "soon" - which markets will get them, or which models will be made available in Africa.

Among the current crop of Firefox OS handsets are Alcatel's Onetouch Fire line, ZTE's Open II, and devices from Indian manufacturers Intex and Spice. How popular any of the Firefox OS models have been remains unknown, as Mozilla doesn't release figures for the number of active OS users.

While Mozilla has hinted at higher-tier devices on the way soon, most Firefox OS handsets to hit the market so far have been low-end and aimed at emerging markets.

The organisation earlier this week announced a partnership with mobile operators trade body the GSMA to expand local content for emerging markets, as a means of stimulating demand for mobile internet use.

As well as making sure devices and network access are affordable, locally relevant mobile content is needed to encourage smartphone adoption among the four billion people currently not connected to the web, Mozilla said.

"Over the next 6-12 months, we'll be exploring projects focused on low-cost smartphones, digital literacy training and local content. Initial field tests in Bangladesh, Kenya, Brazil and India are currently underway," the Mozilla blog says.

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