Hoping to tap into the large population that hasn’t yet made the move from feature to smartphone, Mozilla is aiming to bring a $25 phone to India and Indonesia. The company doesn’t actually make hardware but instead has been working on its Firefox OS software to power low-cost phones. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Mozilla COO Gong Li said the phones could be available this year. Phones running the Firefox OS are already available from carriers in Latin America and Europe but are priced higher. You can, for example, purchase a Firefox OS phone from ZTE on eBay for between $70 and $100.
Smartphones as cheap as $25 powered by Mozilla Corp.’s software will be available in India and Indonesia later this year, a senior company executive said. Mozilla has been pitching its Firefox mobile operating system for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets as an alternative to Google Inc.’s Android and Apple Inc.’s iOS, establishing partnerships with major handset vendors, carriers and assemblers since July. U.S.-based Mozilla has collaborated with four handset makers and five wireless carriers to provide five Firefox-powered smartphones in Europe and Latin America so far. The handset makers include ZTE Corp. and LG Electronics Co., while the wireless carriers include Telefónica SA, Deutsche Telekom AG and América Móvil SAB. But prices for these smartphones are above US$60 and are still too expensive for most consumers in India and other Southeast Asian countries, Mozilla Chief Operating Officer Gong Li said during an interview on the sidelines of the Mobile Asia Expo. “One U.S. dollar means a lot of things to consumers in emerging countries,” he said. “It’s difficult to sell smartphones that cost more than US$50 in those markets.”