Mozilla unveils low-cost smartphone to rival high-end options

In a bet that consumers want mobile devices with smartphone functionality without paying a premium for high-end models like the iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S5, Mozilla unveiled the cheapest smartphone on the market at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Feb. 23.

A partnership with Chinese chipmaker Spreadtrum Communications will result in a $25 smartphone that runs Firefox OS, said Mozilla in a press release.

"This is a price point currently out of the reach of Google and even the lowest-cost Android handset vendors. It pushed Firefox OS into feature-phone territory, potentially signaling the beginning of the end for the category," said Nick Dillon, an analyst with Ovum, in a statement.

Mozilla said that the price point "redefines the entry level for smartphones in key growth markets." Based on the operators it plans to partner with for the rollout, those "markets" are more specifically India and Indonesia.

The company only introduced its first commercial devices in July 2013.

"In six short months, Firefox OS has more than established itself in the very markets it aimed to address," said John Jackson, vice president of mobility research at IDC in the Mozilla statement.

The $25 smartphone was just one of seven Firefox OS devices teased at the conference--many of which were on the low-cost end of the spectrum. And despite operator and manufacturer support bringing Firefox OS devices to 15 markets in one year, the United States hasn't been a core focus for the company.

So, companies may have to wait a bit longer if they were hoping Firefox OS would be the answer to employer provisioning of mobile devices without breaking the bank.

For more:
- read the Mozilla press release
- read Nick Dillon's statement

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