Mozilla is entering the mobile market quite late, and the company is doing it rather slowly due to a lack of huge resources to push its Firefox OS, but Mozilla is not giving up yet. In fact, it's now launching the first Firefox OS phone in India, one of the world's largest and fastest growing smartphone markets, through partner Intex Technologies.
The new Firefox OS phone is called the Cloud FX. It comes with a 3.5" screen, which is quite small by today's standards even for low-end phones, but Mozilla is trying to focus on bringing the price down as much as possible, so corners must be cut.
The handset also has a 1 GHz processor and only a 2MP rear camera, which again is a compromise. That's still enough to fill a 1080p PC screen, but it's likely the whole camera module is very low-end, too, so the picture quality will be serviceable at best.
The phone gets 4 GB of storage, which should be fine for a low-end device whose apps are simple HTML5 products. The Cloud FX is also a dual-SIM phone, which makes sense as dual-SIM devices have become very popular in emerging markets because they offer a way for people to cut costs on cross-network talking. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is also supported.
The phone is expected to sell for under Rs 2000, which is around $33 and will only be available through the Snapdeal.com e-commerce site.
Despite the very low price for Firefox OS phones, which could in theory a lot of Indian customers could afford, the window of opportunity for Firefox OS at the low-end is closing quickly. Google is already trying to push Android at the low-end through the Android One program. While it may not focus on phones as low-end as the Cloud FX, there are local Indian OEMs that can make Android phones close to that price level.
Thanks to Moore's Law, and about a 30 percent reduction in price for mobile components every year, Android phones will continue to reach lower price levels. The same Moore's Law will, of course, help Firefox OS phones sell for even lower prices, but at some point the difference in price won't be very large, and people will just decide to go with the more popular Android OS.
If having the choice between a $10 unlocked Firefox OS Phone and a $15 unlocked Android phone, most people might go for Android -- especially if all of their friends use Android, too. This is also how Windows became so popular; once most people were using Windows and Windows applications, the rest just went with the same option.
Competition is always great, but Mozilla will have to move faster and get more OEMs to launch Firefox OS phones before that window of opportunity closes, or soon it may be too late.