Mozilla has teamed up with Chinese manufacturer Spreadtrum to try to create a $25 smartphone that runs Firefox OS. They aim to make a phone that will feature the Cortex A5-based SC6821 chipset, which was developed by Spreadtrum and supports WCDMA and EDGE networks. Noticeably absent is support for 4G LTE and the device’s screen will also be a few generations behind today’s high-end smartphones, with only 3.5-inch HVGA displays. Of course, these compromises are necessary if you’re trying to make a $25 smartphone, and Mozilla isn’t aiming for wealthy customers. Instead, it is hoping a cheap smartphone will sell well in developing countries and help spread access to the Web. More →
Samsung announced earlier this month that the Tizen Association had gained 36 powerful friends in the tech industry, but its latest partner might be the most valuable addition yet. According to a report at ZDNet Korea, Samsung’s Chief Secretary Wonsuk Lee revealed that the company will be working closely with Mozilla to foster a relationship between Tizen OS and Firefox OS. Speaking at an HTML5 conference, Lee said that both Tizen and Firefox support HTML5 development, so any apps created for one OS could be made available on the other. Although Samsung has still yet to announce a date for the first Tizen phone, Lee did say that Tizen should launch in the first half of 2014.
It’s been a long time coming, but Firefox OS has finally made its way onto a phone from a from a major smartphone vendor. The LG Fireweb, LG’s first ever Firefox OS device, debuted in Brazil on Tuesday along with the Alcatel One Touch Fire. The LG Fireweb will feature a 4-inch screen with a 480 x 320 pixel display, 1GHz Qualcomm processor, 5-megapixel camera, 4GB of internal storage, and the ability to expand to 32GB with microSD support. The entry-level specs might not attract smartphone users in the market for the most advanced handset, but the $129 BRL ($59 USD) price tag on contract at Vivo Brazil could make this a great jumping off point for Firefox OS. A demonstration video from Mozilla follows below. More →
In order for Mozilla to stand a chance in the competitive mobile marketplace, differentiation is vital. Samsung turned down the Firefox OS earlier this year, but Mozilla is showing signs of life once again with a demonstration of the customizable Firefox Marketplace posted on Wednesday. The Firefox OS app store is designed around a concept called “the feed,” which allows user to customize which apps appear on the front page by liking individual apps, groups of apps, or an entire page of search results by tapping on a heart. As a result, the app store learns your preferences and over time, the apps you see will start to be more in line with your preferences. More →
Expectations for Firefox OS smartphones have been decidedly low, especially since the new platform is entering an extremely crowded market that already includes iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. But The Telegraph reports that ZTE’s budget Firefox Open phone has done surprisingly well so far, as the Chinese company said that it has already sold out of its initial stock of devices on both its United States and United Kingdom eBay pages. The secret to selling the devices, it seems, is to offer them at ridiculously low prices: The Telegraph says that the Open is selling for just $80 off-contract in the U.S. So while Firefox devices certainly won’t appeal to high-end users who love the iPhone 5 or the Galaxy S4, they may yet find a market for people who want a very basic dirt-cheap smartphone.
The co-founder and CTO of Mozilla isn’t worried about entering a crowded mobile market. Brendan Eich explained that Mozilla isn’t looking to compete with high-end smartphones from Apple, Google or Microsoft. The company instead plans to attack the entry-level and feature phone markets with its FireFox OS, which he claims is better than Android for low-end smartphones. In statements made to The Verge, Eich argued that Android is too bloated to run on cheap hardware. He noted that Android 4.0 can’t run on devices with less than 256MB of RAM, which is why there are still phones being produced that run Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The executive explained that FireFox OS doesn’t need a lot of memory and can use low-end processors to build “a truly mass-market smartphone.”
Mozilla’s Firefox OS looks like it’s about to a get a big boost in its quest to make a mark in the hugely competitive mobile industry. AllThingsD reports that manufacturing titan Foxconn “hopes to recruit up to 3,000 software engineers with chops in HTML 5 and cloud computing application programming in the months ahead” as it prepares to release more devices based on the free-to-use Firefox OS. Foxconn’s push to make its own smartphones and tablets comes as the company is trying to lessen its dependence on Apple and broaden its revenue sources. Foxconn unveiled its first Firefox-based tablet earlier this month and the company plans to produce at least four more Firefox devices by the end of the year.
Reports emerged on Monday suggesting consumer electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn intended to build and launch its own devices as Apple’s growth begins to slow. Now, Reuters follows the report with details on what may be Foxconn parent company Hon Hai’s first new mobile device to launch as part of this effort. Reuters was only able to confirm with its unnamed sources that Hon Hai and Mozilla plan to team up to unveil a device running Firefox OS on June 3rd, but a separate report from Focus Taiwan suggests the device in question will in fact be the first tablet powered by Mozilla’s mobile operating system. No other details about the device are known at this time.
Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms have a stranglehold on the global smartphone market that doesn’t appear to be slipping anytime soon. But as a bloody battle rages for the No.3 and No.4 positions in the smartphone race, a new contender with a very different strategy has now hit the market: Firefox OS. Beginning immediately, the first two Firefox-powered smartphones are available to developers and the general public. Or, they were available — it’s hard to say if consumers at large have had their interest piqued by Firefox OS, but both the Keon ($119) and Peak ($194) were sold out on Tuesday morning shortly after becoming available so developers are certainly intrigued. We don’t know how many units were stocked with this first round of shipments, but Mozilla’s new open source mobile OS seems to be off to a good start.
Speaking at AllThingsD’s Dive Into Mobile conference on Monday, Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs announced that the first Firefox OS smartphones will launch around June, Business Insider reported. The executive revealed that initial availability will be limited to emerging markets including Venezuela, Poland, Brazil, Portugal and Spain. The HTML5-based operating system will also be making its way to the United States, as Sprint has previously confirmed that it plans to launch a Firefox OS smartphone sometime next year. Kovacs noted that the delay is due to the company’s plan to build a desirable ecosystem before launching in the highly competitive U.S. market.
Fragmentation is one of those unpleasant topics that no one likes to discuss. That is, unless you are the CEO of Mozilla. Gary Kovacs, the chief executive of Mozilla, took aim at Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and everyone else in the mobile industry during a keynote at Mobile World Congress this week in Spain. The executive believes that the mobile industry has become too consolidated and consumers should have more options available to them. More →
One of the few points of interest that emerged from a phablet-filled Mobile World Conference this year is the first round of phones powered by the new Firefox OS. Mozilla’s new HTML5-based mobile platform is open and available to vendors for free, and it could make a serious dent in emerging markets. But a stumbling block emerges as Samsung (005930), the world’s top cell phone maker by shipment volume, has reportedly stated that it has no interest in adopting the OS for its handsets, CNET reports. This makes sense since Samsung’s Android bet has already been hedged, but it could be a serious roadblock for Mozilla as Samsung continues to put its massive weight behind a push into emerging markets.
Another day, another Firefox OS-powered handset here at Mobile World Congress. We had the chance to take a hands-on look at Alcatel’s first Firefox phone on Tuesday and walked away with some distinctly tepid impressions. As a disclaimer, the software we played with was in beta, but Firefox and Alcatel are planning to launch these phones within months, so any performance enhancements they hope to achieve will have to be pushed out relatively quickly. More →