Disrupter Alert: Mozilla Says It Will Unleash A Flood Of $25 Smartphones
Android giant, Samsung (OTC: SSNLF) may have stolen thunder with the launch of its long-awaited Galaxy S5 Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but as keen observers noted, Mozilla had a little thunder-stealing of its own up its sleeve.
With all the attention on Samsung, not everyone noticed that Mozilla announced seven new smartphones for worldwide distribution (although not in the U.S.).
More importantly, the company said it would soon flood the market with smartphones costing $25. The $25 price point meant Mozilla’s Firefox OS loaded devices could help Firefox adopters dominate emerging markets such as China and India, where U.K.-based research firm Mediacells estimated consumers would purchase more than 500 million smartphones in 2014.
Related: Rumor: Samsung Galaxy S5 Unveiling Set For February 23, 2014
Companies currently building Firefox handsets include Alcatel OneTouch, Huawei, LG, and ZTE. In addition, Panasonic said it would join the Firefox OS community and build a web-connected HDTV.
Speaking to a crowd of 200 media at the Barcelona congress, Mozilla Foundation chair Mitchell Baker said, "We are committed to an open platform [that] works across a variety of devices. It is called the Web."
To be fair, Mozilla’s offerings are not impressive when compared with others in the smartphone space. Baker even said observers should think of the devices as feature phones with power.
That said, Current Analysis analyst, Avi Greengart, told VentureBeat that the $25 Firefox OS phone “could be extremely disruptive.”
The introduction of $25 smartphones – even phones considered “low-end” – could spell trouble for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), which has made being competitive in China a major goal, and Nokia (NYSE: NOK), which just launched three Android OS equipped emerging market smartphones of its own at the Mobile World Congress.
It’s bad news, also, for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), which is in process of acquiring Nokia’s phone division. Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, which was slated to replace Nokia’s Symbian OS, simply does not work well on low-end devices.
To that end, Nokia launched its Android phones in Barcelona, a move that might still prove to be inadequate when compared with a Firefox-powered $25 smartphone.
VentureBeat speculated that the introduction of such an inexpensive device might be predictive of a not-so-distant future in which phones are given away – even in emerging markets.
At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.
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