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Spreadtrum, Mozilla to roll out $25 Firefox smartphone

Posted: 24 Feb 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:entry-level smartphone? Firefox? reference designs?

Lam agreed with that assessment. "FireFox OS has less processing and memory requirements, since the OS and the services live mostly in the cloud. For example, most of the apps written for Firefox OS are written in HTML5 and can be run within a mobile browser."

Spreadtrum unveiled the SC6821 WCDMA smartphone chipset Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Mobile World Congress as the industry's first chipset for $25 smartphones. With this chipset, the company said, handset makers will be able to bring to market smartphones "with 3.5-inch HVGA touchscreens, integrated [with] WiFi, Bluetooth, FM and camera functions, the advanced phone and browser features of Firefox OS, and access to a rich ecosystem of web and HTML5 applications."

The price points of first-generation Firefox devices are "at the $60-$100 level, on par with low-end Android devices," as Lam said. However, the $25 Firefox phone pitched by Spreadtrum and Mozilla is aimed at people who have never used smartphones beforea market segment traditionally served by low-cost devices with minimal features.

Though the marketshare is gradually decreasing, 46.4% of mobile phones sold to consumers last year were still feature phones, according to recent figures from Gartner. That translates into roughly 838 million feature phones for consumers, who could be persuaded to try a very low-cost, Firefox OS-based smartphone.

Mozilla's Firefox OS is "an operating system well suited for this segment," Jovin said. "First-time smartphone users find it intuitive to have everythingfrom a browser to appson a seamless web platform." No switching from apps to the web is required. Moreover, the low-memory Firefox OS environment enables $25 Firefox OS phones access to Android KitKat-level of applicationswhich are out of reach for entry-level Android phones.

Lam also said a $25 smartphone (at retail) would bring the smartphone experience to developing markets traditionally served by the ultra-low-cost segment. "Think of it as direct competition to the $20 Nokia 105 feature phone."

Chip vendors support Firefox

Mozilla is gaining support from a number of operators, handset companies, and silicon vendors.

Sravan Kundojjala, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, told us both Qualcomm and Spreadtrum currently support the Firefox OS. "Recently, we have seen a dual OS (Android/Firefox) Geek Phone based on Intel's Z2560, so [there are] three vendors now supporting Firefox OS."

To maintain a certain level of experience on Firefox OS-based devices, Mozilla banded together with a number of operators and chip companies to launch the Open Web Device Compliance Review Board (CRB) in December. Its members include Deutsche Telekom, LG, Sony, Mozilla, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., Alcatel, Telefnica, Telenor, KDDI, ZTE, and Spreadtrum.

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