At Mobile World Congress 2014, Mozilla, maker of Google-financed browsers, announced that its mobile OS version known now as FireFox OS will be the foundation for several new low-cost phones that are designed for consumption in markets with low smartphone penetration, writes our correspondent, Tom Henderson.
Once known as Boot-to-Gecko, FireFox OS is especially easy to “skin” for mobiles network operators as HTML5 apps will live atop the Gecko layer, allowing simple customizations and app mixtures to be conjured. Complete skins of the OS as a customization for revenue streams, user applications, and perhaps actual phone calls, are perceived to popular, and FireFox supplies these with out usury and fealty paid to Google, or even Microsoft.
Spreadtrum, a Chinese chipset developer, has built a chipset featuring a System-on-a-Chip reference design for FireFox OS using ARM designs capable of TD-LTE/TD-SCDMA/EDGE/GPRS and lowly GSM protocols. This reference design ostensibly permits phone makers to target retail prices as low as $25 for smartphone designs.
Such thinking flies in the face of business plans from numerous smartphone makers and mobile OS developers salivating revenues in the remaining smartphone markets, identified as rice farmers in Asia, Eastern Bloc ex-slaves to socialism, and of course, the downtrodden whose national carriers serviced their markets with ancient flip phones, having no data infrastructure for backhaul of important videos, or a way to charge for them.
This seeming commoditisation of smartphones by Mozilla is unlikely to be the only OS and requisite chipset entrant to target the “low-end” of smartphones and mobiles as Microsoft, Blackberry, and others re-tool to garner the tougher, high-tree fruits of the marketplace.