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Mozilla and Spreadtrum announce $25 smartphone

by Mark Tyson on 24 February 2014, 14:15

Tags: Mozilla, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qaca6v

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Browser maker Mozilla has today announced its new partnership with Shanghai-based chip maker Spreadtrum. With Spreadtrum providing the chipsets, Mozilla's sights are aimed at the low-cost smartphone market as it showed off a $25 smartphone prototype with Firefox OS.

"Firefox OS delivers a customized, fun and intuitive experience for first-time smartphone buyers and our collaboration with Spreadtrum enables the industry to offer customers an extremely affordable way to get a smartphone and connect with Web apps," said Dr. Li Gong, Mozilla Senior VP of Mobile Devices and President of Asia Operations.

The new smartphone targets users in the cost sensitive market of the developing world whilst setting a new bar in the entry-level smartphone market. This will also help Mozilla push its browser-based OS where competition from iOS and Android is perhaps more vulnerable. The firm has plans to work with Polytron to make and promote the phones. Indonesia-based carrier Telkomsel and Indosat are also lined up to sell the device.

"Imagine the phone in your pocket is a feature phone. Imagine, when you go buy one of these devices, that every euro is precious to you," Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation said at a press conference. Looking at "the richness and power we're able to offer to this market, you'll be astonished. Then imagine where we can go from there."

Not just cheapies

As well as its $25 smartphone Mozilla also used the MWC event to unveil specs for a higher end reference smartphone called the Firefox OS Flame as follows:

  • Qualcomm MSM8210 Snapdragon, 1.2GHz Dual core processor
  • 4.5-inch screen (FWVGA 854×480 pixels)
  • Cameras: Rear 5MP / Front 2MP
  • 3G UMTS quad-band (850/900/1900/2100)
  • 256MB -1GB RAM (adjustable by developer)
  • 8GB storage
  • A-GPS, NFC
  • Battery capacity: 1,800mAh
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, Micro USB

According to John Jackson, VP of Mobility Research of IDC, Firefox OS has more than established itself in the markets it aimed to address in just six months. "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." A Strategy Analytics survey also found that developers targeting the Firefox OS are expected to triple this year.

Firefox OS is not just for smartphones. Mozilla also put forward two tablet reference designs, a 7-incher and 10-incher built by VIA and Foxconn respectively.

VIA Vixen:

Foxconn InFocus:

7’’ 1024×600 HD LCD screen

1.2 GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9 processor

ARM Mali-400 Dual-Processor GPU

8GB storage

1GB RAM

Cameras: Front 0.3 MP, Back 2.0 MP

Wifi: 802.11 b/g/n

 

10” screen (1280 x 800 pixels, 24-bit color)

A31 (ARM Cortex A7) Quad-Core 1.0GHz w/ PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU

16GB storage

2GB RAM

Cameras: Rear 5MP/ Front 2MP

A-GPS

Battery capacity: 7,000 mAh

WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, Micro USB

 

It will be interesting to see if we get any of the above Firefox OS devices in the UK and what the prices will be. I like the browser but think that the OS might be let down quite often by the lower specs of many of the proposed devices seen so far.



HEXUS Forums :: 8 Comments

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On the surface, a good step forward. It won't interest those buying high-end phones, but there's a lot, including me, not interested in £500 phones even if they're not just smart, but geniuses.

However, statements like “customised, fun and intuitive experience” worry me. It smacks of the self-interested, and un-remivable (without heroic measures) app-drivel that so many companies, like Samsung, clog up the front-end with. Or worse yet, customised tie-in front ends, like Amazon Fire.

So, even at that price, for me, EVERYTHING hsngs on usability. I don't expect iPhone hardware or feature-set, but I also don't expect it be “fun” in the sense that I can't remove ad-driven spam-apps, or privacy-invading nosiness, from it. If it is, I won't have one if they paid me to take it.

So …. interesting possibilities, but I'll wait fo find out a LOT more before getting excited. I approve of the theory, but implementation will be critical for me.
does cheap mean ugly? they could make an better design much better
That sounds monumentally cheap! How are they subsidising it?
Was wondering how Mozilla's phone OS would manage to get into the market (didn't stand a chance head on) but looks like this will do it long as its not complete crap.
Well looking at the performance in the video, it performs more than good enough already for something so cheap. And I imagine they still have some optimizations they can do, as she says in the video. I may pick one up if they make them available in the UK for £20 or something :)