Mozilla recently announced that the first Firefox OS smartphone has started to arrive in Africa. The phone, called the Orange Klif, went on sale in Senegal and Madagascar last week. Mozilla and Orange had already announced their partnership at MWC this year and also that Firefox OS phones will come to Africa and the Middle East later this year.
"We are pleased to partner with Orange to bring the mobile Web [sic] to users in a substantial number of new growth markets across Africa and the Middle East," said Andreas Gal, CTO of Mozilla. "I'm also thrilled to see how the imminent arrival of Firefox OS has created excitement in the local Mozilla communities."
Firefox OS can be seen as Mozilla's "Chrome OS for mobile." It's an open source OS that works only with Web apps, but some of those Web apps can also be installed "locally" so they can work offline. A good example of this is games where most if not all of the content needs to be downloaded before you can play the game.
Although we're still talking small numbers here, Firefox OS has managed to become more successful than Ubuntu Touch, another open source operating system that has tried to take on Android. So far, Ubuntu Touch has only managed to appear on one smartphone, while Firefox OS is on several. Mozilla has also managed to attract many more OEM and carrier partners than Canonical, the company that makes Ubuntu Touch.
Mozilla's main strategy seems to be to release Firefox OS on ultra-low-end smartphones that cost as little as $25, undercutting even low-end Android phones. At this price point, the customers buying the phones are also far less likely to care about the number of supported applications or even the performance of the device (as long as it's fast enough for regular phone operations).
The Orange Klif is made by Alcatel and will cost under $40, and it will include a data, text and voice plan. The phone comes with a dual-core 1 GHz processor, a 3.5" screen with 480 x 320 resolution (not unlike the iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS), 256 MB of RAM, 512 MB of storage (it's a good thing most of the Firefox OS apps work on the Web), a 2MP rear-camera with LED flash, and a 1300 mAh battery.
The "Klif" will soon be available to some of Orange's other markets in the area, including Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon, Botswana, Madagascar, Mali, The Ivory Coast, Jordan, Niger, Kenya, Mauritius and Vanuatu.