Upcoming FireFox OS powered $25 smartphones with Spreadtrum SC6821 EDGE SoC having 128MB on chip RAM used via zRAM swap by the OS

Hands on with the $25 Smartphone running Firefox OS at MWC 2014 [TrustedReviews YouTube channel, Feb 24, 2014]

We got hands on with the proposed $25 Smartphone which sees Firefox partner with Chinese chip designer Spreadtrum Communications.

[0:15] “This is the newest … set that is running on ultra low-end memory which is 128MB RAM and 256MB ROM. So that’s why we call it the lowest [price] smartphone you probably can get on the market” [0:30]

From With Firefox OS, Mozilla begins the $25 smartphone push [CNET, Feb 23, 2014]

Mozilla doubled down on its bet that low-end smartphones will give Firefox OS a place in the crowded mobile market, announcing partnerships Sunday that will bring $25 smartphones to the large number of people who can’t afford high-end models like Apple’s iPhone 5S and Samsung’s Galaxy S5 that cost hundreds of dollars.

At the Mobile World Congress here, Mozilla announced a deal with Chinese chip designer Spreadtrum Communications that will mean Firefox OS smartphones will arrive in extremely cost-sensitive markets like India and Indonesia where people often buy phones from a bin in a store.

We’re working with them to break through the $50 $25 barrier [should be corrected, obviously], which is hard,” Mozilla Chief Technology Officer Brendan Eich told CNET. “This is going to be for a set of [sales] channels in Asia that do not involve operators,” the carriers that in other parts of the world dominate distribution.

One company that plans to make and promote the phones is Indonesia-based Polytron. And Indonesian carriers Telkomsel and Indosat plan to sell the devices. Hands-on testing shows the cheap Firefox OS phones to be workable. “This is a price point currently out of the reach of Google and even the lowest-cost Android handset vendors. It pushes Firefox OS into feature-phone territory, potentially signaling the beginning of the end for the category,” said Ovum analyst Nick Dillon in a statement.

Mozilla has found a small niche in the mobile OS market by pursuing its low-end strategy, with the first phones debuting in countries such as Hungary, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Greece. Mozilla, a non-profit organization, hopes to use the browser-based operating system to lower the barriers that today keep people locked into ecosystems linking hardware, OS, app store, services, content, and apps.

Firefox OS takes on challenges
Today, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android dominate the market for smartphones and tablets. Challengers like Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Ubuntu Touch, WebOS, BlackBerry OS, and Samsung’s Tizen have struggled to push these aside: it’s hard to compete against an incumbent that’s got millions of users, hundreds of thousands of apps, and few signs of the complacency that can open a door for challengers.

Firefox OS won’t have an easy time of it. There’s not as much money to be squeezed from low-end markets, so developers aren’t as likely to pursue it as avidly. The Spreadtrum chipset will support only 2.5G Edge mobile networks that, while common in poorer parts of the world, are too slow for a lot of modern apps. And Google is pushing toward lower-end phones, with Android 4.4 memory-saving techniques [“zRAM swap can increase the amount of memory available in the system by compressing memory pages and putting them in a dynamically allocated swap area of memory.”] that fit KitKat into phones with 512MB of RAM.

At the same time, though, Firefox is pushing, too. It uses the same ZRAM memory compression technique to halve its memory requirement to 128MB of memory, Eich said.

Getting down to $25 phones means Firefox OS will provide an alternative for people who’d otherwise buy a feature phone — a model with a few built-in apps but not much more.

So Firefox has a chance there. But in the long run, to succeed, Firefox OS will need to push up-market, and it’s not clear how Mozilla will succeed there with much stronger competition.

Think Big at #MWC14: Mozilla leadership discuss innovation and digital literacy [ThinkBigEurope YouTube channel, Feb 25, 2014]

During the world’s largest mobile exhibition, Think Big roaming reporters from across Europe cover the smart phone that will give access to the web for millions and the need for increased digital literacy.

Note: Think Big is a Telefonica initiative targeting young people in six European countries: Ireland, UK, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia (countries where Telefonica operates in Europe)

How good is the $25 smartphone from Mozilla – BBC News [BBC News YouTube channel, Feb 24, 2014]

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Mozilla Corp has unveiled a prototype model of what it hopes will become a $25 smartphone. The BBC’s LJ Rich tried it out. #MWC14

Mozilla plans ‘$25 smartphone’ for emerging markets [BBC News, Feb 23, 2014]

Mozilla has shown off a prototype for a $25 (£15) smartphone that is aimed at the developing world.

The company, which is famed mostly for its Firefox browser, has partnered with Chinese low-cost chip maker Spreadtrum.

While not as powerful as more expensive models, the device will run apps and make use of mobile internet.

It would appeal to the sorts of people who currently buy cheap “feature” phones, analysts said.

Feature phones are highly popular in the developing world as a halfway point between “dumb” phones – just voice calls and other basic functions – and fully-fledged smartphones.

Mozilla hopes that it will capture an early lead in a market that is now being targeted by mobile device manufacturers who see the developing world as the remaining area for massive growth.

It will face stern competition from bigger, more established brands, however – with more announcements of this kind expected over the course of the next couple of days at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“These solutions expand the global accessibility of open web smartphones to first-time and entry-level smartphone buyers by reducing the time and cost required for handset makers to bring these devices to market,” said Spreadtrum in a press statement.

Mozilla said the phone “redefines” the entry-level phone market.

The concept of a cheap smartphone may seem likely to appeal to consumers in developed countries, particularly those who locked into long contracts in order to subsidise the cost of the likes of the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy range.

But analyst Carolina Milanesi, from Kantar Worldpanel, said it should not be seen as a competitor.

You’re not really talking about smartphone experience.

You’re talking about a clumsy smartphone that’s a little bit better than a feature phone – still primarily for voice and text.”

The phone runs Mozilla’s own mobile operating system – something that could cause problems as competition in the cheap smartphone market steps up, Ms Milanesi added.

Mozilla also announced new high-end smartphones

image

In addition to the $25 smartphone, Mozilla also launched several high-end models, including devices from Huawei and ZTE.

Mozilla press conference about Firefox OS at MWC 2014 [firefoxchannel YouTube channel, Feb 23, 2014]

Mozilla demonstrated the breadth and growth of its Firefox OS open mobile ecosystem at a press event on the eve of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Sunday, February 23, 2014. To learn more about Firefox OS please visit: http://mzl.la/1dPqt71.

The $25 smartphone announcement comes at [15:30] with the following slides (note the 1Gb, i.e. 128MB LPDDR1 Embedded in the SoC!!):

image

image

From Firefox OS Unleashes the Future of Mobile [Mozilla Press Center, Feb 23, 2014]

Spreadtrum has announced WCDMA and EDGE turnkey reference designs for Firefox OS as well as the industry’s first chipset for US$25 smartphones, the SC6821, that redefines the entry level for smartphones in key growth markets. These solutions are already creating a stir, with global operators such as Telenor, Telkomsel and Indosat, and ecosystem partners such as Polytron, T2Mobile and Thundersoft expressing interest.

$25 Firefox Smartphone (MWC 2014) [ARMflix YouTube channel, Feb 25, 2014]

Mozilla introduced their $25 Firefox smartphone based on 1 GHz Single Core Spreadtrum ARM processor. http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/os/

[0:33] “The key thing about this device is that this is only powered by 128MB of RAM. So this is only one half or one quarter of the existing entry level devices that we are seeing on the market.” [0:47]

Warning: This article does not take into account the SC6821 characteristics, especially its 128MB on chip RAM used via zRAM swap by the OS, as well as its EDGE only networking!
Is a US$25 smartphone possible? [DIGITIMES, Feb 25, 2014]

Mobile World Congress (MWC) kicked off with a bang, with Mozilla announcing a US$25 smartphone built around a turnkey solution that features silicon from China-based Spreadtrum and software from Firefox.

According to a Mozilla press release, Spreadtrum and Mozilla have now completed the integration of Firefox OS with several of Spreadtrum’s WCDMA and EDGE smartphone chipsets, including the SC6821, unveiled by Spreadtrum as the industry’s first chipset for a US$25 smartphone.

So the key to the solution is the SC6821, which Spreadtrum stated is “designed with a unique low memory configuration and high level of integration that dramatically reduces the total bill of materials required to develop low-end smartphones.” Mozilla added that with this chipset, handset makers will be able to bring to market smartphones with 3.5-inch HVGA [eg. 480×320] touchscreens, integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM and camera functions, the advanced phone and browser features of Firefox OS, and access to an ecosystem of web and HTML5 applications.

With a clearer picture of the specs Mozilla envisions for a US$25 smartphone, I approached Digitimes Research Analyst Luke Lin to ask if he thought it was possible to deliver such a product to the market at this time. According to Lin, the simple answer is that it would be “impossible” to see a US$25 Firefox phone hit the shelves this year, unless operators are willing to provide subsidies.

Lin explained that currently, the absolute lowest smartphone BOM in China is estimated to be around US$22 (and most are significantly more than that) and that manufacturing costs are highly unlikely to go below US$20 this year, which would be the cost needed to deliver a US$25 smartphone to end users. The cost would need to get to US$15-20 FOB in order to get a selling price of US$25, Lin said.

In terms of Spreadtrum‘s claims it has produced a level of integration and memory requirements that can reduce the BOM cost significantly, Digitimes Research Analyst Anthony Chen commented that Spreadtrum’s solution is no more integrated than any other integrated solution on the market so there is no clear advantage there. And as for memory, the cheapest and smallest memory modules (ROM and mobile DRAM) for smartphones in China run about US$5 for a configuration of 256MB ROM and 256MB of mobile DRAM, and Chen highly doubts the Mozilla solution could run with a lesser configuration than that.

One other argument being offered as to why Spreadtrum could offer lower pricing than competitors is that the China government has a stake in the company. The logic is that an edge in pricing could help Spreadtrum better compete with Taiwan-based MediaTek and US-based Qualcomm.

Chen responded to the suggestion by pointing out that such a statement is not really an argument. It’s merely speculation. Moreover, Chen noted that Spreadtrum’s cheapest products currently sell in the US$3-4 range, and he doesn’t see much chance for the price to be reduced significantly, with subsidies or without.

While it is true that BOM costs are always falling, Lin and Chen agreed that component makers are much more likely to be squeezed in the higher-end segments, where they have margins. At the bottom of the market, the component makers are not really making any money. As a long term strategy for the low-end of the market, they would much prefer to provide improved specs at the same price rather than cut prices, Lin explained, while adding that it is unlikely that the BOM would drop much further at the bottom end of the market, as it is already close to US$20. Therefore, while prices may drop a little, Digitimes Research does not expect prices to drop all that much in the near future.

Another perspective was offered by Digitimes Research Analyst Jason Yang, who stated that if there is any component that could influence the low-end smartphone BOM at this point, it was the touch panel, not the application processor. Yang indicated that currently the touch panel module, with LCD display, accounts for the largest portion of the BOM, at around US$7-8 for the cheapest modules. Yang did state that he believes the price may drop this year, but not enough to bring the overall BOM cost of the cheapest phones to below US$20.

So, if ultimately the announcement was all about Mozilla driving the launch of a US$25 smartphone, Lin doubts that this will happen this year or anytime soon. Based on the current cost structure, Lin believes Firefox models priced in the US$60-80 are more likely to appear in 2014. Of course, users may be able to find spectacular deals and price cuts, but such a situation would more likely be inventory clearance or something similar, not a mainstream price point.

However, if this announcement is not about Mozilla driving the market to low-cost smartphones and is more about a trend where emerging markets will become flooded with cheap smartphones, then it should be noted that this is a process that is already underway.

Currently in China, entry-level smartphones – mostly white-box but even some brands – are already selling in the US$50 range. And these smartphones are not just being shipped to the domestic market. China vendors exported about 30% of their smartphones in 2013 and that proportion is forecast to rise in 2014. According to Digitimes Research data tracking smartphone shipments by vendor and the related market breakdown, the non top-10 segment (which is dominated by Greater China vendors and white-box players) accounted for 12% of global smartphone shipments in 2012, 21% of the global market in 2013, and Digitimes Research forecasts the share will rise to 25.6% in 2014.

So the flow of cheap smartphones from China going to emerging markets has already started and the shipments are steadily increasing, it’s just that the devices cost a bit more than US$25 and almost all of them feature Android as the OS.

Spreadtrum and Mozilla Take Aim at Global Smartphone Accessibility with Turnkey Solution for US$25 Smartphones [press release, BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 23, 2014]

– Integration of Spreadtrum’s entry-level smartphone chipsets with turnkey reference designs for Firefox OS aims to bring Open Web Devices to an underserved audience of entry-level smartphone buyers around the world

– Spreadtrum unveils the SC6821, the industry’s first chipset for US$25 smartphones (retail), on Firefox OS

Today at Mobile World Congress, Spreadtrum Communications, Inc., a leading fabless semiconductor company in China with advanced technology in 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards, and Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands, announced that they have teamed up to deliver turnkey Firefox OS reference designs with Spreadtrum’s entry-level smartphone chipsets. These solutions expand the global accessibility of open Web smartphones to first-time and entry-level smartphone buyers by reducing the time and cost required for handset makers to bring these devices to market. Spreadtrum and Mozilla have now completed the integration of Firefox OS with several of Spreadtrum’s WCDMA and EDGE smartphone chipsets, including the SC6821, unveiled today by Spreadtrum as the industry’s first chipset for US$25 smartphones. These smartphones are available for demos at Mozilla’s booth (3C30) at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona.

“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 Gong, Mozilla Senior Vice President of Mobile Devices and President of Asia Operations. “Firefox OS delivers a customized, fun and intuitive experience for first-time smartphone buyers and our collaboration with Spreadtrum enables the industry to offer customers an extremely affordable way to get a smartphone and connect with Web apps.”

At Mobile World Congress, Spreadtrum unveiled the SC6821, its new smartphone chipset that redefines the entry level of the global smartphone market. The chipset is designed with a unique low memory configuration and high level of integration that dramatically reduces the total bill of materials required to develop low-end smartphones. With this chipset, handset makers will be able to bring to market smartphones with 3.5″ HVGA [e.g. 480×320] touchscreens, integrated WiFi, Bluetooth, FM and camera functions, the advanced phone and browser features of Firefox OS, and access to a rich ecosystem of web and HTML5 applications, at prices similar to much more minimally featured budget feature phones.

Spreadtrum’s turnkey reference design brings together this highly cost-effective chipset platform with the intuitive, easy-to-use experience and Web/HTML5 application ecosystem of Firefox OS. “Turnkey solutions benefit the vast majority of small handset makers by reducing the time and cost involved in bringing new devices to market,” said Stuart Robinson, analyst at Strategy Analytics. “This joint effort between Spreadtrum and Mozilla will help make Firefox OS more readily available to handset makers that focus on the needs of entry level smartphone buyers in emerging markets.”

Firefox OS smartphones are the first devices powered completely by Web technologies to deliver the performance, personalization and price users want in a smartphone with a beautiful, intuitive and easy-to-use experience that is unmatched by other phones. Firefox OS has all the things users need from a smartphone as well as the things they want like built-in social integration with Facebook and Twitter, HERE Maps with offline capabilities, much-loved features like the Firefox Web browser, the Firefox Marketplace for apps and more. Firefox OS features a brand new concept for smartphones – an adaptive app search that literally transforms the phone to meet a user’s needs and interests at any moment.
Firefox OS offers Mozilla-pioneered WebAPIs that unlock the power of the Web and enable developers to build fun and rich app experiences that were previously only available to proprietary native apps, which are fragmented by platform and not portable.

Xiaomao Xiao, Spreadtrum’s vice president of software development added, “By integrating Firefox OS support with our smartphone platforms, we are providing our customers with flexibility and choice in how they develop and design their smartphones as well as access to the increasingly rich base of HTML5 applications that are available on this platform. We are pleased to work with Mozilla to expand Firefox OS support to all of our smartphone platforms to provide the benefits of open web technologies to consumers around the world.”

Spreadtrum and Mozilla have completed the integration of Firefox OS with Spreadtrum’s SC6821 and SC7710 WCDMA smartphone chipsets, and expect to complete a turnkey reference design for the SC7715, Spreadtrum’s single-core WCDMA smartphone chipset with integrated connectivity, next month. Spreadtrum and Mozilla’s collaboration will extend across Spreadtrum’s full chipset portfolio.

About Spreadtrum Communications, Inc.
Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. is a fabless semiconductor company that develops mobile chipset platforms for smartphones, feature phones and other consumer electronics products, supporting 2G, 3G and 4G wireless communications standards. Spreadtrum’s solutions combine its highly integrated, power-efficient chipsets with customizable software and reference designs in a complete turnkey platform, enabling customers to achieve faster design cycles with a lower development cost. Spreadtrum’s customers include global and China-based manufacturers developing mobile products for consumers in China and emerging markets around the world. Spreadtrum is a privately held company headquartered in Shanghai and an affiliate of Tsinghua Unigroup, Ltd. For more information, visit www.spreadtrum.com.

About Mozilla
Mozilla has been a pioneer and advocate for the Web for more than 15 years. We create and promote open standards that enable innovation and advance the Web as a platform for all. Today, half a billion people worldwide use Mozilla Firefox to discover, experience and connect to the Web on computers, tablets and mobile phones. For more information please visit https://www.mozilla.org/.

Firefox OS Expands to Higher-Performance Devices and Pushes the Boundaries of Entry-Level Smartphones [Mozilla Press Center, Feb 23, 2014]

Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands, today previewed the future of Firefox OS to show how the flexibility, scalability and powerful customization will empower users, developers and industry partners to create the exact mobile experience they want with relevant and innovative features, localized services and more.

Expanding Ecosystem
imageToday, device partners ALCATEL ONETOUCH, Huawei, LG and ZTE are all using Firefox OS on a broad range of smartphones that are tailored for different types of consumers. The Firefox OS devices unveiled today showcase dual-core processors for better performance, higher screen resolution and more. The newest Firefox OS devices to join the family include the ZTE Open C and Open II, Alcatel ONETOUCH Fire C, Fire E, Fire S and Fire 7 tablet, all using Snapdragon™ processors from Qualcomm Technologies Inc., a leader in mobile communications.

In the few months since initial launch, Firefox OS smartphones are now available in 15 markets, with new operators and new markets around the globe announced today. Mozilla is working to create a level playing field with the openness of the Web. The ecosystem is catching fire and resulting in development of new form factors beyond the smartphone. For example, Panasonic announced they will make SmartTVs powered by Firefox OS, Foxconn and Via are making Firefox OS tablets, and Mozilla is working with suppliers to enable devices for all target user groups.

Significant growth is also happening with apps and content on Firefox OS, proving the Web has the potential to be the world’s largest marketplace. Firefox OS offers two ways to discover and utilize apps and content – the Firefox Marketplace and an adaptive app search that enables discovery and access to apps that users can instantly use once or download to keep. This innovative approach helps maximize data and storage usage.

The Firefox Marketplace has seen thousands of developers submitting apps and millions of downloads of popular global and relevant local apps. Top global apps include Cut the Rope, Disney’s Where’s My Water?, Facebook, EverNav, HERE, Line, Pinterest, SoundCloud, The Weather Channel, TimeOut, Twitter, Yelp and YouTube.

image

The ZTE Open C will offer the latest version of Firefox OS
in Venezuela and Uruguay in Q2 of 2014

The Firefox Marketplace makes it possible to create local and niche apps with relevant regional content by allowing developers to build on basic Web technologies, without gatekeepers. The top new local apps in the Firefox Marketplace include Despegar.com travel booking, Capp World Cup highlights, Captain Rogers game, Manana reading app, Napster, SurfTime and more.

Future of Firefox OS
At Mobile World Congress, Mozilla is showing off a preview of what to expect from Firefox OS in the coming year and what’s possible when the Web is the platform.

Firefox OS is made to change with each individual and adapt to his or her interests and needs with features like adaptive app search, offline use and cost control. New content can be enjoyed instantly with a simple search, making downloads virtually a thing of the past. Firefox OS offers deep levels of customization that are unmatched by any platform or device. This is possible because Firefox OS is built on the flexible technologies of the Web and the user interface is made of a modular architecture of building blocks that make it easy for anyone to customize.

Upcoming versions of Firefox OS will offer users fun and innovative new features and services including new and intuitive navigation, a powerful universal search feature, support for LTE networks and dual SIM cards, easy ways to share content, ability to create custom ringtones, replaceable home screens and Firefox Accounts.

New versions of Firefox OS have many performance improvements that dramatically improve the user experience including speedier launch times, smoother scrolling and improved keyboard accuracy.

Here are highlights on a few of the features coming next for Firefox OS:

  • Deep customization options for operators and manufacturers, developers and users. This includes the ability to create custom ringtones and replaceable home screens, which were direct requests from Firefox OS users.
  • A new universal search that will revolutionize how users discover content on their phones. The feature is available on any screen – simply swipe down from the top to find new apps, content or navigate to anything on the phone or the Web.
  • New navigation features to make multitasking intuitive, fluid and smart, much like how users interact with the Web. Users can easily swipe from the left and right edges to seamlessly move between pages, content and apps in a fun way that saves time.
  • Easy and direct sharing of content (and even software updates) in a secure way with NFC support, without the need for data or Wifi.
  • LTE support to make the mobile experience even faster.
  • Firefox OS will introduce Firefox Accounts and services. Firefox Accounts is a safe and easy way for users to create an account that enables them to sign in and take Firefox everywhere. With Firefox Accounts, Mozilla can better integrate services including Firefox Marketplace, Firefox Sync, backup, storage, or even a service to help locate, message or wipe a phone if it were lost or stolen.

As the platform evolves, Firefox OS will enable new technologies for the mobile industry. Mozilla is already leading the way in areas like gaming, privacy and security, WebRTC and other services. Firefox OS is a great platform for which partners can build additional services that meet the needs of their customers regionally and individually.

Early examples:

  • Telefonica offers a very helpful cost control app for customers to manage their usage and top off their account.
  • Deutsche Telekom just announced they are utilizing the deep levels of customization Firefox OS offers to develop new privacy features for the Future of Mobile Privacy project, a joint effort with Mozilla to create effective, user-driven privacy functionality for mobile devices.
  • WebRTC is an open, standards-based technology that enables operators to offer services like real time chat, image and file sharing. With WebRTC, operators can let users make calls to any desktop or mobile device, regardless of platform or service provider.

“We’re pleased to see the Firefox OS ecosystem grow so quickly as users, developers and partners come together to experience and build the future of mobile experiences,” said Andreas Gal, Mozilla Vice President of Mobile. “Firefox OS will continue to evolve and add more features to offer choice and customization that is unmatched by any other smartphone. We’re excited to see what other features and services will result from an open platform being contributed to by developers, partners and community around the world.”

About Mozilla
Mozilla has been a pioneer and advocate for the Web for more than 15 years. We create and promote open standards that enable innovation and advance the Web as a platform for all. Today, half a billion people worldwide use Mozilla Firefox to experience the Web on computers, tablets and mobile devices. With Firefox OS and
Firefox Marketplace, Mozilla is driving a mobile ecosystem built entirely on open Web standards, freeing mobile providers, manufacturers, developers and consumers from the limitations and restrictions imposed by proprietary platforms. For more information, visit http://www.mozilla.org.

For More information: https://blog.mozilla.org/press/kits/firefox-os/

New Developer Hardware and Tools Show Firefox OS Ecosystem Momentum [Mozilla Press Center, Feb 23, 2014]

Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands, today announced new developer reference hardware and tools that will continue to accelerate momentum around the Firefox OS ecosystem, making it cheaper, faster and easier for developers, operators and OEMs to deploy innovative Web apps and create personalized Firefox OS experiences.

Mozilla announced a 4.5” dual-core reference phone, enabling developers to test new Firefox OS features and apps against different memory configurations. It also expanded the Mozilla tablet program that helps developers test their apps and build out Firefox OS for tablets.

New Firefox OS developer tools and hardware demonstrate ecosystem momentum

New Firefox OS PhoneGap integration was also announced, allowing hundreds of thousands of PhoneGap developers to port their existing apps to Firefox OS in a matter of hours, while new WebAPIs will continue to narrow the gap between native and Web apps. At Mobile World Congress, Mozilla also launched developer tools that will allow OEMs and operators to easily customize Firefox OS for a variety of customer segments.

Developers have always been the key to driving innovation around the Web, and continue to enable it as a platform for app development and distribution. With these new reference devices, tools, and WebAPIs, Mozilla is catalyzing the growth of Web apps and continuing to break down the barriers and restrictions inflicted by other app ecosystems. The Web not only simplifies app development and reduces fragmentation, but allows developers to own the direct customer relationship with the option to host their own apps and or sell them through the Firefox Marketplace.

Vision Mobile recently published a report showing that developer interest for Firefox OS continues to grow, capturing 7% of developer mindshare in just six months. The report also highlighted that during Q1 2014, 52% of developers were already using HTML5 for mobile websites or Web apps with an additional 16% indicating their intention to join them.

A recent survey by Strategy Analytics found that the number of mobile app developers building for Firefox OS is expected to triple this year, showing the biggest rise in developer interest of any mobile platform.

This industry momentum is fueled by the fact that there are already millions of Web developers programming in HTML5 who are eager to target mobile without having to learn a new programming language, or pay engineers to target specific mobile platforms.

The following expanded reference hardware, tools, and WebAPIs, will continue to drive growth of the Firefox OS ecosystem and help prove why the Web is a powerful platform for app development and distribution:

New Reference Phone

At Mobile World Congress, Mozilla is showcasing its new developer reference phone, the Firefox OS Flame, enabling developers to test the capabilities of Firefox OS in a real environment with a mobile network and true hardware characteristics like the accelerometer, NFC and camera. Like the commercially available Firefox OS phones, the Flame developer reference phone is powered by a Qualcomm processor, in this instance a high powered 1.2GH dual core processor, so developers can test their more processor-intensive games and apps with ease. Developers looking to target their apps for specific Firefox OS phones with lower memory footprints also have the option to alter the RAM capacity of the Flame, from 1GB to 256MB, to see how their apps would perform on lower specked phones. The Flame also provides developers and early adopters with access to the latest Firefox OS builds to test nightly releases and contribute to the overall development platform.
Firefox OS Flame Specs (Reference device):

  • Qualcomm MSM8210 Snapdragon, 1.2GHZ Dual core [Cortex-A7 with Qualcomm Adreno 302 GPU] processor
  • 4.5” screen (FWVGA 854×480 pixels)
  • Cameras: Rear: 5MP / Front: 2MP
  • 3G UMTS quad-band (850/900/1900/2100)
  • 8GB memory
  • 256MB -1GB RAM (adjustable by developer)
  • A-GPS, NFC
  • Dual SIM support
  • Battery capacity: 1,800 mAh
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, Micro USB

Hundreds of Thousands of PhoneGap Users Can Now Target Firefox OS

Firefox OS will be supported in the next release of PhoneGap, the leading developer tool for building apps across platforms. This builds on the recently announced Firefox OS integration with Cordova, a popular Apache Foundation open source project that allows HTML5 applications to be packaged as native apps.

PhoneGap is a mobile application development framework used by hundreds of thousands of developers. It is based upon the open source Apache Cordova project and allows developers to write an app with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, and then deploy it to a wide range of mobile devices with the same capabilities as native apps. With the Firefox OS integration, developers can now port their existing PhoneGap apps to Firefox OS in a matter of hours, with minimal work. For more information, please see this Hacks post.

App Manager Simplifies App Development with Live Prototyping and Debugging

App Manager brings the Firefox Web developer tools to mobile app developers. It shows how the power of the Web helps developers test, deploy and debug Web apps on Firefox OS phones directly from their desktop. The Firefox Web developer tools are already used by millions of Web developers for creating Web pages, and now the App Manager extends these capabilities to mobile app creation, with the same familiar workflow. There is no SDK to download, developers simply use the App Manager as part of the integrated developer tools in the Firefox browser.

Because the App Manager and Firefox OS both use open Web technologies, debugging, live editing and prototyping is straightforward. For example, an operator or OEM may want to prototype different branded homescreen themes for different audiences. Using the App Manager, they can code this on their desktop and in real-time see the changes appear on their connected Firefox OS phone, eliminating lengthy build times. To see how this is done, please see this MDN article.

New WebAPIs and Industry Adoption

There are now more than 30 Mozilla-pioneered WebAPIs with at least eight new APIs introduced in the last year, including WebNFC and Data Store API. These new APIs build more functionality and features into the Web for app development. There is increasing industry adoption as these APIs move towards standardization. Samsung added the Vibration API and Battery Status API to WebKit, while tools like Apache Cordova and Adobe’s PhoneGap now integrate six of the most popular WebAPIs into their products.

Foxconn and VIA Join Tablet Contribution Program

Mozilla recently introduced a tablet contribution program aimed at accelerating the build of Firefox OS for tablets and its supporting ecosystem, with Foxconn as the first hardware partner.

As part of the Firefox OS tablet contribution program, VIA is offering a 7” Vixen reference tablet for developers around the world to help the Mozilla community complete the build of Firefox OS for tablets. Developers can now apply to be a part of this program from this Mozilla Hacks post.

Developer Reference Tablet Specifications:

VIA Vixen:

  • 7’’ 1024×600 HD LCD screen
  • 1.2 GHz Dual Core Cortex-A9 processor
  • ARM Mali-400 Dual-Processor GPU
  • 8GB storage
  • 1GB RAM
  • Cameras: Front 0.3 MP, Back 2.0 MP
  • Wifi: 802.11 b/g/n

Foxconn InFocus:

  • 10” screen (1280 x 800 pixels, 24-bit color)
  • [Allwinner] A31 (ARM Cortex A7) Quad-Core 1.0GHz w/ PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
  • 16GB storage
  • 2GB RAM
  • Cameras: Rear 5MP/ Front 2MP
  • A-GPS
  • Battery capacity: 7,000 mAh
  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, Micro USB

“It’s clear that more and more developers are choosing the Web as their preferred development platform for mobile apps, as the technical gap between native and Web apps narrows,” said Brendan Eich, Mozilla CTO and SVP Engineering. “We listen to what developers are asking for to make the Web their primary development platform and think Mozilla and its partners have made significant progress with these new hardware, tools, and WebAPIs. It’ll be exciting to see what new mobile innovations come in 2014.”

Firefox OS Unleashes the Future of Mobile [Mozilla Press Center, Feb 23, 2014]

Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to keeping the power of the Web in people’s hands, demonstrated the breadth and growth of its Firefox OS open mobile ecosystem at a press event on the eve of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The event introduced seven new commercial Firefox OS devices and highlighted advancements and partnerships that will enable the platform to scale up in 2014.

In the year since MWC 2013, Firefox OS devices have gone on sale in 15 markets with four global operators and handsets from three manufacturers. Firefox OS will be expanding into important new markets in 2014. Telefónica will build on the list of countries where it’s selling Firefox OS phones, with eight more launching this year: Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama. Deutsche Telekom will also add four new markets: Croatia, the Czech Republic, Macedonia and Montenegro.

Operator support for Firefox OS also continues to expand, as Telkomsel and Indosat have joined the list of 21 key operators across the globe that support the open Web device initiative. That list also includes partners announced last year: América Móvil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Three Group, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia Group, Telefónica, Telenor, Telstra, TMN and VimpelCom.

A new smartphone entry level
Spreadtrum has announced WCDMA and EDGE turnkey reference designs for Firefox OS as well as the industry’s first chipset for US$25 smartphones, the SC6821, that redefines the entry level for smartphones in key growth markets. These solutions are already creating a stir, with global operators such as Telenor, Telkomsel and Indosat, and ecosystem partners such as Polytron, T2Mobile and Thundersoft expressing interest.

In six short months, Firefox OS has more than established itself in the very markets it aimed to address,” said John Jackson, VP of Mobility Research, IDC. “Today’s announcements underscore the platform’s rapid maturation and growing ecosystem benefits. New products, tools, categories, partners, features, and extraordinarily compelling price points will reinforce Firefox OS’s momentum into 2014. IDC expects year-on-year Firefox OS volumes will grow by a factor of six times in the smartphone category alone.”

Flexibility and customization
Firefox OS devices are the first devices built entirely to open Web standards, with every feature developed as an HTML5 application. Mozilla previewed the future of Firefox OS at its press event, demonstrating how its flexibility, scalability and powerful customization empower users, developers and industry partners to create the exact mobile experience they want. Carriers can easily and deeply customize the interface and develop localized services that match the unique needs of their customer base.

Deutsche Telekom is utilizing this customization to develop new Firefox OS features for the Future of Mobile Privacy project, a joint effort with Mozilla to bring data privacy closer to customers. The organizations’ privacy offices have been collaborating over the past year to conceptualize and develop new privacy features that are currently being tested for consideration in future Firefox OS releases.

Firefox OS is also expanding to additional form factors, as partners and contributors work to optimize the software for TVs, tablets and other devices. In January, Panasonic announced a partnership with Mozilla to release next-generation smart TVs powered by Firefox OS.

“Firefox OS is off to an amazing start. We launched our first smartphones in July, and have since expanded into fifteen markets,” said Jay Sullivan, chief operating officer of Mozilla. “People in Latin America and Eastern Europe have eagerly upgraded from their feature phones to Firefox OS smartphones and now have rich access to the Web and apps. Sales have far exceeded our targets. But 2013 was just the beginning. In 2014, we are differentiating our user experience and our partners are growing the portfolio of devices. We are also enabling a whole new category of smartphone, priced around $25, that will bring even more people around the world online.”

Streamlining the support process
Mozilla has received significant interest from mobile manufacturers looking to differentiate themselves by producing Firefox OS phones and tablets. To help service this demand and facilitate the next wave of device growth, Mozilla launched a new self service partner portal to fast track manufacturers and streamline bringing devices to market. Manufacturers get all the resources and branding required to launch a Firefox OS device in one place.

In order to promote the success of this ecosystem, the Open Web Device Compliance Review Board (CRB) was formed by Mozilla and major global partners in late 2013. The CRB’s aim is to define and evolve the process of encouraging API compatibility and competitive performance for open Web devices.

Partner quotes
Marieta Rivero, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Telefónica, said: “We started marketing Firefox OS less than eight months ago, commencing with Spain and expanding to several Latin American countries. In a number of these countries, Firefox OS has been a market leader in smartphone sales from the very start. We’re transforming the market, and will continue focusing our efforts on open environments that give clients more freedom, and prices that are better suited to their possibilities. 2014 will undoubtedly be a key year for all of this.”

“The continuing rollout across our European markets is tangible proof of our drive to push Firefox OS, together with Mozilla and bring an open operating system to all of our customers,” said Thomas Kiessling, Chief Product & Innovation Officer at Deutsche Telekom. “The introduction of an even more affordable handset on the one hand and a higher-end model on the other also show we are reaching more market segments.”

“Telenor and our operating businesses have seen great consumer satisfaction and a continued appetite in the market for quality, low-cost products based on Firefox OS,” said Holger Hussmann, VP Device and OS at Telenor. “We are supportive and welcoming of the efforts of enabling vendors and device partners focused on serving this great, underserved market opportunity.”

Alistair Johnston, Director of Marketing for Telkomsel, said: “Telkomsel will support Mozilla with its Spreadtrum turnkey solution and device partner as an attempt to bring the smartphone to the palm of every Indonesian and to perform Telkomsel strategy to speed up and enrich the DNA (Device – Network – Application) ecosystem in Indonesia.”

President Director & CEO of Indosat, Alexander Rusli, said: “Indosat as the leading communications provider in Indonesia is ready for Firefox OS smartphones based on the Spreadtrum solution. This is in line with our strategy in 2014 to provide the best experience to our customers and become the customer’s preferred choice for smartphones and smart device users.”

“Polytron is announcing the intention of supporting the manufacturing, distribution, and promotion of Firefox OS smartphones based on Spreadtrum’s latest solution,” said Mr. Hariono, CEO of Polytron, Indonesia’s leading mobile device brand. “T2Mobile specializes in offering our customers the ability to rapidly address the needs of its customers in every segment of the wireless ecosystem,” said Aaron Zhang, CEO, T2Mobile, a leading ODM specializing in Firefox OS-based mobile solutions. “The creation of new Firefox OS and open Web devices will be further accelerated by these solutions and we are pleased to support these new offerings.”

“We are excited by the new and highly affordable possibilities enabled by Firefox OS,” said Hongfei Zhao, CEO, Thundersoft, a leading global technology and solutions provider that helps OEMs’ accelerate high quality product development and achieve fast time to market. “We have expanded our services in new areas including support for Firefox OS, enabling new and unique offerings in the mobile Internet device industry and ecosystem.”

More information
Opening remarks by Mitchell Baker, Executive Chair and Jay Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer

Please visit Mozilla and experience Firefox OS at stand 3C30 in Hall 3, at the Fira Gran Via, Barcelona from February 24-27, 2014.

For additional resources, such as high-resolution Firefox OS images and b-roll video, visit: https://blog.mozilla.org/press.

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About Nacsa Sándor

Lazure Kft. • infokommunikációs felhő szakértés • high-tech marketing • elérhetőség: snacsa@live.com Okleveles villamos és automatizálási mérnök (1971) Munkahelyek: Microsoft, EMC, Compaq és Digital veterán. Korábban magyar cégek (GDS Szoftver, Computrend, SzáMOK, OLAJTERV). Jelenleg Lazure Kft. Amire szakmailag büszke vagyok (időrendben visszafelé): – Microsoft .NET 1.0 … .NET 3.5 és Visual Studio Team System bevezetések Magyarországon (2000 — 2008) – Digital Alpha technológia vezető adatközponti és vállalati szerver platformmá tétele (másokkal együttes csapat tagjaként) Magyarországon (1993 — 1998) – Koncepcionális modellezés (ma használatos elnevezéssel: domain-driven design) az objektum-orientált programozással kombinált módon (1985 — 1993) – Poszt-graduális képzés a miniszámítógépes szoftverfejlesztés, konkurrens (párhuzamos) programozás és más témákban (1973 — 1984) Az utóbbi időben általam művelt területek: ld. lazure2.wordpress.com (Experiencing the Cloud) – Predictive strategies based on the cyclical nature of the ICT development (also based on my previous findings during the period of 1978 — 1990) – User Experience Design for the Cloud – Marketing Communications based on the Cloud
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One Response to Upcoming FireFox OS powered $25 smartphones with Spreadtrum SC6821 EDGE SoC having 128MB on chip RAM used via zRAM swap by the OS

  1. Pingback: The (said to be) contra MediaTek play of Tsinghua Unigroup with attempted merger of Spreadtrum and RDA | Experiencing the Cloud

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