MWC 2015 – Firefox OS To Target Developed Markets With Flip Phones

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Mozilla wants retro Firefox OS devices to appeal to those with simple tastes

Mozilla has struck a deal to create Firefox OS-powered flip and slider phones in a bid to position the open source operating system as a simple, low-cost alternative to other platforms in developed markets.

Traditionally, Firefox OS devices have been targeted at first time smartphone buyers in emerging countries, but Mozilla revealed at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona that it believes the web-based platform can fulfil an important role in markets where smartphone penetration is high.

It hopes the use of form factors popularised in the mid-2000s by the likes of the Motorola Razr can appeal to those who want a simple phone just to make calls and texts, but still have the capability to run applications, take pictures, play music and video, and access mobile data services.

Mozilla is partnering with US operator Verizon Wireless, Japanese firm KDDI, Spanish network Telefonica and South Korea’s LG U+ to create the throwback devices, the first of which should be available in 2016.

Flip phones

Orange Klif Firefox OS“By leveraging Firefox OS and the power of the Web, we are re-imagining and providing a modern platform for entry-level phones, said Li Gong, President of Mozilla at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona. “We’re excited to work with operator partners like KDDI, LG U+, Telefonica and Verizon Wireless to reach new audiences in both emerging and developed markets and offer customers differentiated services.”

Mozilla also used MWC 2015 to reveal part of its roadmap for Firefox OS. Future versions will feature improved support for multi-core processors, enhanced privacy, WebRTC support and Near Field Communication (NFC).

“Verizon aims to deliver innovative new products to its customers, and this initiative is about creating a modern, simple and smart platform for basic phones,” added Rosemary McNally, vice president of device technology at Verizon. “We’re looking forward to continuing to work with Mozilla and other service providers to leverage the power of Firefox OS and the Web community.”

Global expansion

However Mozilla is still focused on the developing world, as demonstrated by a new partnership with Orange that will see the Orange Klif smartphone (pictured), created by Alcatel OneTouch, offered in 12 markets in Asia and Africa.

The device is the first Firefox OS phone to be powered by a MEdiaTek processor and boasts a two megapixel camera, dual SIM and a MicroSD port. It will be available in Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon, Botswana, Madagascar, Mali, The Ivory Coast, Jordan, Niger, Kenya, Mauritius and Vanuatu from the third quarter of 2015.

Firefox OS is now available from operators in 40 countries and on 17 devices, and Mozilla is proud of the progress that the platform has made since its launch.

“Two years ago Firefox OS was a promise. At MWC 2014, we were able to show that Firefox OS scales across price ranges and form factors,” continued Gong. “Today, at MWC 2015, we celebrate dozens of successful device launches across continents, adoption of Firefox OS beyond mobile, as well as growing interest and innovation around the only truly open mobile platform. And we are proud to report that 3 major chip vendors contribute to the Firefox OS ecosystem.”

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