Mozilla is planning to bring an ultra inexpensive smartphone to India and Indonesia later this year. The handset, powered by Firefox OS, will retail for $25 off-contract and could serve as a viable stepping stone from a feature phone to a smartphone for those with budget constraints.
During a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mozilla Chief Operating Officer Gong Li pointed out that one US dollar means a lot of things to consumers in emerging countries. As such, it’s difficult to sell smartphones that cost more than $50 in those markets. But with a $25 phone, Li said, there is no price gap between a smartphone and a feature phone.
To build a cheaper device that’s affordable to the next billion potential smartphone buyers, Mozilla is working with Chinese chip maker Spreadtrum Communications Inc. As GigaOm notes, however, the handsets will likely only provide very basic smartphone functionality.
Things like photo sharing, e-mail, social networking apps, mapping, games and media playback should all be within the scope of the $25 device. Complex apps or those that rely heavily on a phone’s processing power, on the other hand, may never show up on a Firefox OS device.
Mozilla will likely sell a lot of smartphones at this price point in these regions but don’t expect it to be a cakewalk. Other low-cost Android partners will likely be vying for a piece of the pie by dropping the cost of their handsets to compete.