It is indeed a very good initiative taken by Spreadtrum and Mozilla, this will really extend the reach of the present day mobile access pattern to virtually all the users of mobile phones. At present the entry level mobile consumers are not being able to use the benefit of the web bases application access properly. With this mostly all of them will be able to have reach to those applications like whatsapp, facebook, viber, tango etc. Simultaniously it will also provide opportunity for the mobile service providers to earn more on data access.
If Firefox OS can run on 128MB of RAM it is really a very great design, but will it be able to run the android applications on it? The article says Android KitKat based applications are supported on Firefox OS, if it really does that then Mozilla should first launch an emulator that can run on Android old versions supporting the KitKat applications. It will really create an awareness among android users and people will rate the OS.
Yes, I also explored the matter little bit, it is all the way a new architecture, and requires a separate binary to be places in Firefox Market Place. So what one can expect is the firmness on the price point, if the FireFox OS bases phone is to be sold at higher than 25$ then it will be a very tough time for them to sell. As that is the only attracting feature for a new buyer.
Actually data plan are very inexpensive in these countries. There are so many players who provide service so the competition is also strong to get customers. Some of the plan I know of are as low as $2 per month and if you are ready to pay $5 per month rental post paid..you can get unlimited internet access. If you are just checking your emails or browse sites or use occassional GPS its very good. And I would be surprised to know if someone says we dont need internet access on smartphone, times is changing so are people. There are few small shopkeepers I have observed they keep chatting on facebook. Internet is for everyone whether rich or poor and trust me with so many service providers in market in these developing countries, everyone can afford internet. And its good for the society and technology.
Gone are the days when someone should feel why developing countrymen need internet access and how can they afford it.
A phone is no longer a phone. A USD 25 phone is the primary data/internet device for lots of people. The easist way to book a railway ticket or a bus ticket is a phone. Hence data is absoluteley mandatory on a $25 phone.
There seems to be wierd misconecptiosn about use of phones in India nd China. Usage these days is very data centric. Except that the data usage is minimal or in case liek FB, data usage is free on some operators. Also most apps that get used are free. Paid content is pretty much music (can be as low as 1.5 cents per clip), ringtones and other low cost content.
So looking at statistics it might appear that data revenue is low and data usage is miniscule.But that does not reflect the reality of even $25 devices being data centric.
I do not pull these figures out of the hat nor are my observations armchair navel pontification ! My drinking buddies inclued two Telco CEOs and all I hear from is how Indians pay little for so many services ! Between them they have 300 Mill customers. Margins are wafer thin in India but volumes are huge. So get an ARPU increase of USD .5 to 1 is considered a major feat.
As an Indian, I also fully agree with your view that though the Indian customers are using their phones for data services , the revenues earned by Telcos are miniscule.
But since many a services in India have now become on-line with mobile support - such as bill payment. Carrying the railway, bus or movie tickets on mobiles, the data usage is slowly increasing and the Telcos can expect better revenues from their subscribers by usage of more data services.
There is no doubt that the business models for the phones and the data will evolve over time and possibly with government support. I think a better way to think about the announcements is that these vendors are targeting lower price points for entry level smartphones for emerging markets where this is likely to be the consumer's first smartphone and only internet device. All too often we think of the billions of smartphones in use in western countries and forget that the majority of future growth will come from emerging markets and consumers that cannot afford the current crop of superphones.
I agree that the future lies in emerging markets, but there will still be a market within the United States and other more industrialized nations enabling growth and innovation for companies that can then expand the lower-end of their business models abroad in emerging markets.
Zewede - $25 my not be the optimal price point, but as others have pointed out, there are different markets, networks, consumers, etc. The $500 smartphone and expensive data plasn are not going to meet the needs of many consumers that are not on the leading edge of technology. In fact, without subsidies, the average price of smartphones in the US would likely drop significantly.
The introduction of low cost smartphones is inevitable. It is time. The challenge of another OS is the limited variety of apps. Windows phone is experiencing the lack of apps and the popularity is limited. How does Mozilla tackle the challenge?
It seems Game Over! for the feature phones now. With the smart phones becoming available for such a dirt cheap price who need to stick to those simple phones?
With internet availability on mobiles at affordable rates and with reasonably good bandwidths, and a hoard of cloud based apps , these phones are surely goind to create a storm in the mobile marketplace.
I think this is not cheap alternative of iPhone or Android phone, instead it is feature phone with touch screen. You can make phone call, web access, e-mail, messaging, some extra features (caldner/scheduler, camera, etc), that's all. You won't have fancy voice-recognition AI, you won't have millions of online Apps, but do you really need them?
My primary question is if it can achieve "good enough" quality in $25 price tag. If LCD visibility, touch screen precision / sensitivity, battery life is below minimum expectation, it will never take off. In my opinion there will certainly oppotunity for simple low-cost phone, but $25 retail price tag would be going too far.
Guess I shouldn't be putting questions in here that I don't have an answer for, but I suppose this really won't quite "substitute" for a smartphone since I doubt you could really watch video very well on it, I mean how much GPU can you afford in the BOM for a $25 device? Without enough processing power you'd use even MORE BW if you had to almost "stream pixels". But I don't really know how much low-end GPUs sell for in huge quantites, maybe someone else on here knows. (Or maybe you HAVE to be able to support video in order to run the ads you need to monetize the sale of the device?) Definitely some issues that need to be looked at anyway, don't think this article answered all the relevant questions yet.
Once any company produce firefox phones and want to sell at some profit (retails price > $25), they will very likely face the question from consumers "They (spreadtrum) said it is $25!!".
Defining the end-product retail price by chip vendors is, IMO, pissing off customers (phone makers). It is very strange because if you don't want your customers making money, why customers will use your chips?