Mozilla has revealed a prototype device that promises to bring smartphones down to the $25 level – which could mean the beginning of the end for feature phones as we know them.
The prototype $25 Firefox smartphone – announced on the eve of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Sunday – is based on a turnkey reference design developed by Chinese chipset firm Spreadtrum Communications.
The reference design uses Spreadtrum’s new SC6821 chipset, which packs a range of features such as 3.5" HVGA touchscreens, integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM and camera functions – and of course Firefox OS.
Spreadtrum has also integrated Firefox OS into its SC7710 WCDMA smartphone chipset reference design.
Mozilla says the low-cost solutions have attracted interest from operators like Telenor, Telkomsel and Indosat, as well as ecosystem partners such as Polytron, T2Mobile and Thundersoft.
Nick Dillon, senior analyst at Ovum, says that the Spreadtrum deal is Mozilla’s attempt to build on momentum from its MWC debut a year ago and the commercial launch of the first Firefox OS devices in July 2013 – and it could just work.
“The companies plan to leverage Firefox OS's lightweight footprint and Spreadtrum's expertise in designing low-cost chipsets to build a reference design for $25 handsets,” Dillon wrote in a research note. “This is a price point currently out of the reach of Google and even the lowest-cost Android handset vendors. It pushes Firefox OS into feature-phone territory, potentially signaling the beginning of the end for the category.”
Mozilla also announced on Sunday a half dozen new Firefox devices, including the ZTE Open C and Open II, Alcatel OneTouch Fire C, Fire E, Fire S and Fire 7 tablet.