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Mozilla To Sell '$25' Firefox OS Smartphones In India 82

Posted by timothy
from the prosperity-sensors dept.
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes Mozilla, the organisation behind the Firefox browser, has announced it will start selling low-cost smartphones in India within the "next few months". Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the firm's chief operating officer suggested the handsets, which will be manufactured by two Indian companies, would retail at $25 (£15) [note: full article paywalled]. They will run Mozilla's HTML5 web-based mobile operating system, Firefox OS. The firm already sells Firefox-powered phones in Europe and Latin America. Firefox OS has come a long way even in the year since we saw a tech demo at Linux Fest Northwest.
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Mozilla To Sell '$25' Firefox OS Smartphones In India

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:14AM (#47221847) Journal
    At $25, I'd be in for at least one, just to have a look at this 'firefox OS' in its native habitat (as well as it likely being at least better than most dumbphones in terms of usability, probably not enough screen, for $25, to take on the $100+ 'smartphone' scene. Any chance of these showing up stateside?

    A mobile OS that isn't Apple's Garden of Pure Ideology, or linked directly to the mothership in Redmond if you actually want to do much of anything would also be nice to see.
    • by Threni (635302)

      I predict they'll never be available in the US/UK for anything like that little money. There'll be taxes and import duty and this and that and....and it'll end up being 3 times that, and for the money you'd be able to buy something which less horrific performance. There's no profit in this for anyone - why bother in the first place?

          • by Threni (635302)

            Sure. There are many people working to ensure that people in developing countries have access to education, water, immunisation etc. And now, uh..mobile phone? I mean, let's be honest - that's usually done for profit, so that the guys in suits get money, and so that the company sticks around long enough to fix the inevitable bugs, release a second version etc.

      • Well 3 x $25 = $75. At that price I still agree with the PP, I'd pay it just to see what Firefox OS is like.
        It would have to be over two hundred before I'd decide it wasn't worth it.

        • by aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:52AM (#47222123)

          +1 on this one. Mozilla should not commit the same mistake as the OLPC project in restricting sales to selected Third World regions. It should sell the phone wherever there are buyers, if not at your local telco or Walmart, then online. More sales in the West means more phones falling into the hands of geeky bums with the potential and time to tinker/mod the phone into something just a wee bit cooler than the default factory-shipped OS. Will the phone have more juice than the Raspberry Pi? Maybe it could sell to the maker crowd.

          • Even if it doesn't, my understanding is that it runs some sort of Linux kernel, with enough juice for a mostly-HTML/JS GUI to be endurable, plus it obviously includes at least some baseline GSM/GPRS (quite possibly a later standard; but it'd be hard to call it much of a phone without that), which is a notable perk for certain projects.

            Interfacing a GSM module with anything from a microcontroller on up isn't all that hard (Hayes Ain't Dead, just extended a lot...); but a bare SIM900 module will run you a
            • Searching for "LCD TFT SPI" on eBay.ca gives me quite a list of 2.2 inches displays with built-in SD/microSD socket, for only 6.00~6.50$CAD per unit (shipping included). Going up, you have 2.8" displays with touch screen for less than 20$CAD with shipping.

          • Mozilla aren't selling these.

            They have merely attracted the interest of *Indian* entrepreneurs to produce phones for the *Indian* market. Nothing stopping these guys from certifying these phones to worldwide standards and opening a webstore to ship internationally. Or partnering with Walmart to import 20,000 of them.

        • by gQuigs (913879) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:56AM (#47222159) Homepage

          How about $100?
          Announcement post; https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/... [mozilla.org]
          US store: http://item.ebay.com/291125433... [ebay.com]

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            Thanks! My Android phone is starting to fritz out and this would be fun to play with.

          • by Karlt1 (231423)

            How about $100?
            Announcement post; https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/ [mozilla.org]...
            US store: http://item.ebay.com/291125433 [ebay.com]...

            So why anyone get this instead of an Android device? There are plenty of usable Android devices for less than $100 (unsubsidized).

            • by Threni (635302)

              Exactly. And if you're getting one of these to play with, you've probably already got another one. And if you dont...well, these are going to seriously suck, just like all the other cheap Android tablets/phones have always sucked, with in the area of screen size, resolution, old version of android, insufficient ram to ensure speedy (even for the price) operation, crap build quality so you have to go through 2 or 3 to get a working one, etc. So you're going to regret it.

            • Ah, for the OS? None of those sub $100 Android devices, by definition, come with Firefox OS preinstalled.

              If you're asking why anyone would be curious to try Mozilla's platform, well that's a different question entirely.

      • I got the Motorola e ink phone (with 12 segment characters by 8 or so across) for $25 on Amazon as a back up phone a few years ago, it was a $15 dollar phone for India too.

      • They may not make it here at $25 (a cynic would note that this is hardly the first story involving some Indian outfit that was allegedly going to work wonders in low cost electronics, who then dithers and flakes out, increasing prices, slipping schedules, or trimming specs, until, mysteriously, they eventually manage to deliver something or other, right about the time that Chinese mystery-brands are selling them on ebay for the same money, Slashdot has had at least a couple of such stories involving tablets
      • by rolfwind (528248)

        People can get a decent smartphone for under $80 here already, this one with no plan:
        http://www.walmart.com/ip/T-Mo... [walmart.com]

        I've seen it under $70 just a while back but Walmart must cycle the prices every so often.

      • by Pax681 (1002592)

        I predict they'll never be available in the US/UK for anything like that little money. There'll be taxes and import duty and this and that and....and it'll end up being 3 times that, and for the money you'd be able to buy something which less horrific performance. There's no profit in this for anyone - why bother in the first place?

        Nah .. at under £20 GBP it is under the import tax threshold.. so no import tax on this puppy for Scotland or the UK

    • A mobile OS that isn't Apple's Garden of Pure Ideology, or linked directly to the mothership in Redmond if you actually want to do much of anything would also be nice to see.

      Good morning, Mr. Rip Van Winkle. There are mobile phones that run an OS called Android that you seem not to have heard of but exactly meet your criteria. You might want to check that out. You can actually buy those in the USA right now.

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:18AM (#47222349) Homepage

        Perhaps you missed the story yesterday where Google was making the app security on Android even less secure, and in such a way as to prevent users from disabling components which would block ads.

        Sure, you can install apps from other locations ... but there are some apps you can't install unless you root the phone.

        Google is no saint in this regard either. They have some illusions of open-ness, but they also ensure their advertising services and the like can't be selectively disabled.

        Hell, the very act of turning on the GPS in my Nexus 7 causes Google to prompt me to say yes to their own location services.

        Android stuff are almost as directly linked to that particular mothership as Apple or Microsoft.

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Perhaps you missed the story yesterday where Google was making the app security on Android even less secure, and in such a way as to prevent users from disabling components which would block ads.

          Perhaps you missed that Android is open source and there are many distributions that are not tied to Google. Are there iOS or Windows Phone distributions that are not tied to Apple or Microsoft? No.

        • A friend wanted to record trips with the GPS, installed the official Google application ("MyTracks") and then the software demanded to be linked to one of two listed email addresses (xxxxx@gmail.com)

          So we uninstalled it and he forego'ed using the GPS (except for that "navigation in google maps" thing). Huh, that is fucking ridiculous. Even a non technical user sensed there's something wrong to require all your GPS readings be sent to a third party. Next time Google will sell pornography that plays only if y

      • My typo, I'm afraid (I meant Mountain View, though Windows Phone devices are tied pretty closely to Redmond); but Android solves the problem rather less than it pretends to.

        Unless you hack around and run bare AOSP, possibly with certain 3rd-party customizations, the percentage of 'Android' that is actually 'Google Play Services' increases with every version bump. A nontrivial percentage of even non-Google apps also build against Google-specific APIs, rather than the relatively impoverished Android ones (
        • by Kjella (173770)

          A nontrivial percentage of even non-Google apps also build against Google-specific APIs, rather than the relatively impoverished Android ones (the rule of thumb seems to be that, once a role is added to GPS, the AOSP implementation more or less freezes at whatever state it was in and remains there), so incompatibility, even with the absolute freshest AOSP, is quite common.

          Or the TL;DR version: Embrace, extend, extinguish. Companies are not your friends, they're temporary allies as the underdog seeks to become top dog but will abandon you when they no longer need your support. They make more money that way.

      • by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:20AM (#47222373)

        Damn, you know you are right! I confused my Samsung with an iPhone because of the rounded corners.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I'd love to have a cheap phone option available for when I'm going places I'd rather not bring my expensive smart phone. Going to the beach, take the cheap phone. Going skiing, take the cheap phone. Going out to the bar, take the cheap phone. There's a lot of situations where having a cheap phone that doesn't cost so much to replace could come in useful.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        If it's a SIM based phone, and you destroy the phone and your SIM ... are you any better off?

        • At least for contract customers, and often for prepaid, carriers are usually willing to issue a replacement SIM (they might charge 5-10 dollars to do so; but especially for contract customers, why lose a customer over a dinky little crypto IC?) and invalidate the old one.

          Not something you want to deal with the hassle of; but not as bad as losing an expensive phone with the SIM in it. (Plus, if your phone is cheap junk, you can still lose/destroy it on your own; but it is less likely to be stolen, which h
      • by Frankie70 (803801)

        There are Nokias available for 25$ or lesser in most countries without any plan. Which are sturdy as an ox and have absolutely no problems.

  • What about Apps ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by singhv (2011644) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @10:51AM (#47222117) Homepage
    So developers have to start building apps for this OS ? There are $75 smartphones with android OS available in India. Windows-Nokia phone have not been able to catch up in the India although Nokia was leader at one point of time
  • For the Fi-curious (Score:5, Informative)

    by NotFamous (827147) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @11:01AM (#47222207) Homepage Journal
    You can get a Firefox phone right now, available for use in Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States. It is $99, and comes with a 4-inch screen, dual core 1.2Ghz and 512MB RAM. It is the ZTE Open C, available on eBay. Just search for Firefox OS, and you'll find it.They link to it from the Firefox OS site. http://item.ebay.com/291125433... [ebay.com]
    • by rewarp (1736742)

      I own an Open C. But at $25. Even I would want to get another phone just to have more stuff to fool around with. For example, trying to get Ubuntu or Sailfish running.

  • FireFox OS is an ok OS.
    Pity it lacks a decent browser...

    (Sorry, but that HAS to be written)

  • Firefox should have taken care of this and in place of "Intex" and "Spice" they should have gone with someone like "Micromax" which have some reputation of manufacturing some good hardware. This can lead to a bad impression on first buyers, geeks and me.

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