Ecosystem expands with new partners, device categories and regions on 2015
Mobile World Congress: Mozilla has announced new partners and devices joining the Firefox OS ecosystem here in Barcelona. From new partnerships for devices aimed at developed and developing markets with Orange and KDDI, to the addition of chipset manufacturer, MediaTek, the Mozilla support network is expanding, stated president of the company, Li Gong.
Together with KDDI, LG U+, Telefónica and Verizon Wireless, Mozilla has announced a new initiative to create devices based on Firefox OS. The goal of this initiative is to create a more intuitive and easy to use experience powered by Firefox OS for consumers around the world. The companies are collaborating to contribute to the Mozilla community and create a new range of Firefox OS phones for a 2016 launch in various form factors that balance the simplicity of a basic phone (calls, texts) with the more advanced features of a smartphone such as applications, content, navigation, music players, camera, video, LTE, VoLTE, email and web browsing.
With Verizon Wireless, Mozilla has spotted a niche in the American market for the users of mobile phones that refuse to upgrade from a very outdated basic phone to a modern device. Talking to Smart Chimps, Gong commented: “We’re not yet in a position to compete head-on with the big companies in developed markets, but last year with KDDI we developed a very high end device, the Fx0, made by LG that has been a success.
“On Sunday we announced we were working with Verizon Wireless in the US on an underserved element of users in developed countries; there are some people that refuse to update their device from very old ones, for various reasons including that they like the physical keyboard. If you group that segment together it is actually a big segment across developed markets. For Verizon, that large number of its users who are on this kind of device need to upgrade to a modern device, so we will be making a phone using an old form factor with modern technology for them.”
Gong added that since Sunday when that announcement was made, he has seen a lot of interest from other mobile operators who are saying they also have a need to this type of product, “so we’ve obviously hit a chord,” he added.
Orange also announced this week that it is bringing Firefox OS to 13 markets in a new breakthrough digital offer across its significant African and Middle Eastern footprint. The Orange Klif, made by Alcatel OneTouch, starts from under $40 (Euro 35), inclusive of data, voice and text bundle valid for six months, setting a new benchmark in price that will act as a major catalyst for smartphone and data adoption across the region. The 3G Firefox OS smartphone is exclusive to Orange and will be available from the second quarter in 13 of Orange’s markets in the region, including, but not limited to, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon, Botswana, Madagascar, Mali, The Ivory Coast, Jordan, Niger, Kenya, Mauritius and Vanuatu.
Gong told Smart Chimps: “This Orange announcement is very creative. The whole package will be under $40 which will give the user a very solid smartphone with voice and data include in the price for six months. That’s the idea of affordability for Africa; it’s another breakthrough, and this week we are seeing other operators talking to us about it.”
Additionally, the Orange Klif is the first Firefox OS phone powered by a MediaTek processor. This is a momentous event, said Gong, because it marks Mozilla as the only operating system other than Android to have a partnership with all three major chipset makers.
He noted: “We now have support from MediaTek which is significant in this industry. We are now the only non-Android mobile operating system that has support from all three big chipset makers. This means we have a wide choice of the type of product we can bring to market, and it means all three chipset manufactures see potential in us.”
Mozilla also revealed further details about upcoming versions of Firefox OS, among them improved performance and support of multi-core processors, enhanced privacy features, additional support for WebRTC, right to left language support and an NFC payments infrastructure.
With this week’s announcements, Firefox OS will be available from leading operator partners in more than 40 markets in the next year on a total of 17 smartphones.