Mozilla Exhibits $25 Smartphone for Developing Countries

It was about time someone made an affordable, yet functional smartphone for countries where technology is still in the early stages.

Geeksphone Peak+ (pictured below) is one of the Firefox OS developer preview devices that I wrote about last year. Even more recently, the same Spanish manufacturer made Revolution, a smartphone that can boot either in Android or Boot2Gecko, a renamed version of Mozilla’s mobile OS. While the latter will surely be expensive, Peak+ and the other Firefox OS smartphones launched last year had a very attractive price, partly explained by its low-end specs. These days at MWC, Mozilla took things even further, showing off one of the most affordable smartphones ever, destined to be used in developing countries.

Jay Sullivan, COO of Mozilla, pointed out that “People in Latin America and Eastern Europe have eagerly upgraded from their feature phones to Firefox OS smartphones and now have rich access to the web and apps. Sales have far exceeded our targets. But 2013 was just the beginning.” I wish Mr. Sullivan was more specific as to what countries have just made the transition from feature phones to smartphones, as I happen to be from Romania, an Eastern European country where flagships such as Nexus 5, SGS4 and iPhone 5S are not exactly a rarity.

Sullivan explained that “In 2014, we are differentiating our user experience and our partners are growing the portfolio of devices. We are also enabling a whole new category of smartphone, priced around $25, that will bring even more people around the world online.”

John Jackson, IDC’s VP of mobility research, stated that “In six short months, Firefox OS has more than established itself in the very markets it aimed to address. IDC expects year-on-year Firefox OS volumes will grow by a factor of six times in the smartphone category alone.”

Mozilla’s mobile operating system won’t become a threat to iOS or Android anytime soon, as the company focuses on low-end devices made for emerging markets. However, it’s great to see a bit of diversity, and hopefully, more manufacturers will embrace this OS, regardless if they’re big names or smaller tech companies. It definitely looks like it’s no longer exclusively Nokia’s duty to connect people, as plenty of companies – especially Chinese ones – offer affordable smartphones.

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