Firefox Is Releasing A Phone...

...And it's marketing itself to developing countries.

Mozilla is following its web browser competitors—Apple, Google, and Microsoft—into the smartphone market. This July, new phones made by LG, ZTE, and others will be powered by a Firefox operating system. But rather than trying to knock others off American shelves, the first units will be sold in developing countries including Brazil, Hungary, and Mexico. Jay Sullivan, Mozilla's VP of product, explains the strategy.

WHAT MAKES THE FIREFOX PHONE DIFFERENT?

"From a technical point of view, we're basically attaching HTML5 directly to the hardware, which means fewer layers of software, which means pretty good performance at a low price. We don't set the final prices, but it will be on the less-expensive end of the market."

WHY TARGET THE DEVELOPING WORLD?

"Our initial launch countries are places with emerging middle classes, where people will be getting their very first smartphone. Think of it as a great first smartphone introducing you to apps and the web in a way that's very social."

HOW WILL YOU PERSUADE DEVELOPERS TO STILL MAKE APPS?

"Adding a new mobile eco-system has been very challenging for everybody, including Microsoft, BlackBerry, and others. We're really focused on making Firefox OS a platform for anybody who already knows how to develop for the web—which is millions of developers. They'll use HTML or JavaScript to write apps."

WHAT WILL THE APPS BE LIKE?

"From a user perspective they will feel just like normal apps. We've been adding programming interfaces so developers can access anything on the phone from geolocation to the camera to accelerometer. If you have a touch-friendly mobile website today, you have a Firefox app today."

[Illustration by Tado]

Add New Comment

2 Comments