At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014, Mozilla announced its Firefox OS open mobile ecosystem.
In the year since MWC 2013, Firefox OS devices have gone on sale in 15 markets with four global operators and handsets from three manufacturers.
Firefox OS will be expanding into important new markets in 2014. Telefonica will build on the list of countries where it’s selling Firefox OS phones, with eight more launching this year: Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama.
Deutsche Telekom will also add four new markets: Croatia, the Czech Republic, Macedonia and Montenegro.
In OS terms, Windows Phone saw the fastest year-on-year growth among the major platforms, at 69 percent, despite a modest sequential decline of 6 percent from Q3 2013. This compares favorably with Android shipments, which grew 54 percent and iOS shipments, which grew just 7 percent, said Canalys.
Mozilla has announced its partnership with the low-cost chipset vendor Spreadtrum, paving the way for smartphones running the web-based Firefox OS to be sold for $25.
Nick Dillon, senior analyst at Ovum, said: “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. 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.”
Ovum says though the company is yet to announce any sales figures, it has revealed that there have been 425,000 unique visitors to the Firefox OS Marketplace since July 2013. This demonstrates at least a promising level of interest from consumers, and certainly more than the other alternative OSs can currently claim.
Telkomsel and Indosat have joined the list of 21 key operators across the globe that support the open Web device initiative. That list also includes partners announced last year: America Movil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Three Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia Group, Telefonica, Telenor, Telstra, TMN and VimpelCom.
Spreadtrum has announced WCDMA and EDGE turnkey reference designs for Firefox OS as well as the industry’s first chipset for US$25 smartphones, the SC6821, that redefines the entry level for smartphones in key growth markets. These solutions are already creating a stir, with global operators such as Telenor, Telkomsel and Indosat, and ecosystem partners such as Polytron, T2Mobile and Thundersoft expressing interest.
IDC expects year-on-year Firefox OS volumes will grow by a factor of six times in the smartphone category alone.
John Jackson, VP of Mobility Research, IDC, said: “Today’s announcements underscore the platform’s rapid maturation and growing ecosystem benefits. New products, tools, categories, partners, features, and extraordinarily compelling price points will reinforce Firefox OS’s momentum into 2014.”