2014 has been a roller-coaster year for Mozilla, starting with the backlash at co-founder Brendan Eich after becoming CEO. Following this was the implementation of video streaming DRM in Firefox. Last but not least, was the switch to Yahoo as the default search engine for Firefox after the deal with Google ended.
What might look like a big mess on the outside, is in fact a well planned strategy to leave space for Firefox OS, Mozilla’s mobile operating system to disrupt the mobile duopoly and penetrate the low-end market. Firefox OS (also known as ‘Boot to Gecko’) is a Linux kernel-based open-source operating system completely based on open web technologies. Since its launch in 2013, Firefox OS devices have received mixed reviews, but many forget that most Firefox OS devices weren’t designed to compete with their often 4x as expensive counterparts. Intex Cloud FX is the best example with a price tag of $33.
As mentioned by many, Firefox OS empowers feature-phone users to make the switch to smartphones, while not compromising their budget. Mozilla kept this promise by launching several devices in Asia under the $40 price tag, proving that there is still an unexplored market left in the low-end range. Another option is Android One, but there are many for whom $100 is still too expensive.
Let’s have a look at some of the milestones of the Firefox OS adventure in 2014.
Firefox OS is currently available in following countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Macedonia,Montenegro, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela
Low-end, lower-end, Firefox OS
At Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, Mozilla impressed many by announcing the cheapest smartphone ever launched, the ‘Intex Cloud FX’. Following this, Cherry Mobile launched the ‘ACE’ in the Philippines with an even crazier price tag of $22 (does this qualify for a Guinness World Record of the cheapest smartphone ever sold?).
Firefox OS – not only mobile
Outside the mobile space, Firefox OS has found traction in other fields. As an alternative to Google’s Chromecast, Hong Kong startup Matchstick offers “a streaming stick that lets you fire up online content from a mobile to a TV” for only $25. Compatible with Chromecast 1.0 apps such as YouTube, Photowall, and This Week in Tech, Matchstick raised and surpassed its $100k funding goal on Kickstarter at $470k.
It promises compatibility with Chromecast 2.0 apps, which means that developers can recompile an app after changing “only a few lines of code“, according to Matchstick.