Where now for Firefox OS following Spreadtrum $25 phone deal? #MWC14

Mozilla has announced a deal with China-based chipset vendor Spreadtrum at Mobile World Congress to deliver $25 dollar smartphones.

The chipset, with the catchy name of SC6821, is described by Spreadtrum as “redefin[ing] the entry level of the global smartphone market.”

The vendor promises manufacturers that elements such as integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, advanced features of Firefox OS and plenty of web and HTML5 apps, can be marketed into phones at a price point never seen before.

There’s no prizes for guessing the budget device is aimed at emerging markets, yet this move will be seen as a reinforcement for the nascent Mozilla operating system.

For Mozilla, who also announced high end smartphone plans with ZTE and Huawei, this move is particularly interesting given the unleashing of the ZTE Open back in August for what this site described as an “incredibly tempting” original price of $79.99.

“The combination of Firefox OS with Spreadtrum’s entry-level smartphone platforms has the potential to dramatically extend the reach of smartphones and the Web globally,” said Dr. Li Gony, Mozilla senior vice president of mobile devices.

But will this give Mozilla the upper hand in the low end OS market?

Nick Dillon, senior analyst at Ovum, claims this partnership “pushes Firefox OS into feature-phone territory”, adding that original scepticism of the business plan is slowly being eroded.

“It is hard not to be impressed by the progress [FirefoxOS] has made over the last 12 months,” Dillon said. “It has gone from having prototype software and no commercial hardware or solid commitments from mobile operators to having three devices available across 14 countries and seven mobile operators.

“Although the company is yet to announce any sales figures, it has revealed that there have been 425,000 unique visitors to the Firefox OS Marketplace since July 2013,” Dillon continued.

“This demonstrates at least a promising level of interest from consumers, and certainly more than the other alternative Oss can currently claim.”

Mozilla was concentrating heavily on its OS this time last year, with the open source bods announcing the operating system in a press conference kicking off MWC 13.

What do you think of this announcement? Is there a useable market?

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