Mozilla, the developer of the Firefox web browser, has tied up with handset makers Intex and Spice to bring smartphones priced under Rs 2,000 to India within a few months, a move that may redefine the “ultra-affordable” mobile phone market in the country.
Mozilla showcased a smartphone prototype costing as little as $25 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, this February, targeting developing countries including India and China. The Firefox operating system smartphones will compete with phones using Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows platforms.
“Mozilla is dedicated to putting the power of the web in people’s hands, and Firefox OS frees consumers, developers, mobile providers and manufacturers from the limitations and restrictions of proprietary platforms,” Mozilla chief operating officer Li Gong said in a statement. “With more accessible Firefox OS phones coming to India soon and the addition of Intex and Spice to the team of global partners, it is clear that momentum for Firefox OS is continuing to accelerate,” he added.
Dilip Modi, co-founder and CEO of Spice, said the firm has high expectations from this partnership. “These phones will be affordably priced to ensure everyone can enjoy and experience the power of the Firefox OS phone,” Modi added.
Smartphone sales in the country grew almost threefold to over 44 million in 2013, buoyed by affordable devices made by local firms such as Micromax and Karbonn, according to research firm IDC.
“The platform will give us an edge in upgrading buyers from feature phones to smartphones while making it affordable for the mass market. This will propel our devices to be much more than a way to use the web, but take the engagement further and develop the web as a mobile platform,” Intex Technologies business head (mobile), Sanjay Kumar Kalirona said. “The association will enable it to develop ‘unparallelled smart devices’ on the latest Firefox OS platform,” he added.
In the first quarter of 2014, 17.59 million smartphones were shipped in India compared with 6.14 million in the same period of 2013. While Samsung is the category leader with a 35% market share, Micromax had 15%, Karbonn 10%, Lava 6% and Nokia 4% in Q1, IDC said.
Low-cost handsets prices less than Rs 5,000 and smartphones not costing more than Rs 7,000 from Asian handset makers including Huawei, ZTE, Micromax and Karbonn have been driving growth in the emerging markets of Asia and Africa.