Firefox OS gains in mobile, targets $25 smartphones
The company has also highlighted advancements and partnerships that will enable the platform to scale up in 2014.
For smartphones to penetrate into markets in the developing world, cost is key concern. The lower the cost the greater the penetration in these markets. To this end, Spreadtrum is offereing WCDMA and EDGE turnkey reference designs for Firefox OS as well as the industry’s first chipset targeted at US$25 smartphones, the SC6821, that redefines the entry level for smartphones in key growth markets.
In the last 12 months, Firefox OS devices have gone on sale in 15 markets with four global operators and handsets from three manufacturers. In 2014, Telefonica will build on the list of countries where it’s selling Firefox OS phones, with eight more launching this year: Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama. Deutsche Telekom will also add four new markets: Croatia, the Czech Republic, Macedonia and Montenegro.
Operator support for Firefox OS also continues to expand, as Telkomsel and Indosat have joined the list of 21 key operators across the globe that support the open Web device initiative. That list also includes partners announced last year: America Movil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Three Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia Group, Telefonica, Telenor, Telstra, TMN and VimpelCom.
"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."
Firefox OS devices are built entirely to open Web standards, with every feature developed as an HTML5 application. This flexibility, scalability and powerful customization enable carriers to easily customize the interface and develop localized services that match the unique needs of their customer base.
Deutsche Telekom is utilizing this customization to develop Firefox OS features for the Future of Mobile Privacy project, a joint effort with Mozilla to bring data privacy closer to customers. The organizations’ privacy offices have been collaborating over the past year to conceptualize and develop privacy features that are currently being tested for consideration in future Firefox OS releases.
Mozilla has received significant interest from mobile manufacturers looking to differentiate themselves by producing Firefox OS phones and tablets. To help service this demand and facilitate the next wave of device growth, Mozilla launched a new self-service partner portal to fast track manufacturers and streamline bringing devices to market. Manufacturers get all the resources and branding required to launch a Firefox OS device in one place.
In order to promote the success of this ecosystem, the Open Web Device Compliance Review Board (CRB) was formed by Mozilla and major global partners in late 2013. The CRB’s aim is to define and evolve the process of encouraging API compatibility and competitive performance for open Web devices.
"Firefox OS is off to an amazing start. We launched our first smartphones in July, and have since expanded into fifteen markets," said Jay Sullivan, chief operating officer of Mozilla. "People in Latin America and Eastern Europe have eagerly upgraded from their feature phones to Firefox OS smartphones and now have rich access to the Web and apps. Sales have far exceeded our targets. But 2013 was just the beginning. In 2014, we are differentiating our user experience and our partners are growing the portfolio of devices. We are also enabling a whole new category of smartphone, priced around $25, that will bring even more people around the world online."