Mozilla has revamped its Firefox OS strategy, and will no longer focus on creating sub $25 range phones, reports Cnet. According to the report, Firefox CEO Chris Beard sent an email to members of Mozilla’s projects’ developers community, informing them of this development.
Note that, Mozilla launched its low cost smartphones in India in August last year which included Fire One Mi-FX 1, a phone by Spice that cost Rs 2299 . The company had earlier revealed in June that it had inked deals with Indian phone makers Spice and Intex, to introduced these low-cost devices in the country. Other than this the company claims to have launched low cost smartphones in over 17 countries across Africa, Europe and Latin America.
In his email, Beard said that the strategy of merely offering the lowest price smartphone will not succeed, and the company will now instead focus on the ‘Ignite’ initiative, which will focus on creating higher end phones. Interestingly, he mentions the company will continue to develop the feature phones it had said it would at the MWC earlier this year.
Another thing of note Beard mentioned is that Firefox would explore the implementation of Android app compatibility. It will be very interesting to see if the company will pull this off, as it will give Firefox users access to thousands of apps before native ones are developed. It will improve user adoption of its OS, and provide devs with an incentive to eventually port apps to Firefox OS as well. Note that Firefox OS can also run on certain rooted Android devices.
Other than this, Beard mentioned the company will continue to invest in Firefox OS albeit on higher end devices, while exploring opportunities in IoT and connected devices. He claimed the company will also look to create products like smart TVs under the Ignite initiative, if the market conditions are right.
On Android One: Google had introduced its Android One initiative during the annual developer conference at Moscone Center, last year. At the time, Google’s senior vice-president of Android, Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichai said the company would launch sub-$100 smartphones starting with India. He also said that the company has already partnered with Indian mobile makers like, Spice, Micromax and Karbonn.
The Android One initiative was similar to Firefox OS although it involved creating sub $100 phones. However, even this initiative has only met with lukewarm response with only a few new Android One devices being released. Micromax went so far as to tie up with Cyanogen for a new OS for its phones, rather than use Android One.
Our take: It looks like both the cheap smartphone initiatives, Firefox OS and Android One, failed to really take off. This is likely because of the introduction of affordable smartphones with better specifications by Xiaomi and other Chinese makers flooding the market, at a nominally higher price. These offer better user experience, as opposed to underpowered cheap smartphones. At a 2k price range, users are probably better of with feature phones that will not face issues of lag and slowdowns, a common place issue in very low end smartphones. As Beard aptly put it, “We will build phones and connected devices that people want to buy because of the experience, not simply the price.”
Image source: Flickr user Wojciech Szczęsny