Mozilla launches low-cost Firefox OS phone in India

Smartphone shoppers in India can now buy the affordable Cloud FX for just slightly more than Mozilla's target price of $25.

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The Cloud FX, a joint project of India-based phone maker Intex and Mozilla, is a low-cost smartphone running Firefox OS. Mozilla hopes the phone will open up new markets by getting more people to use the Internet. Mozilla

Welcome to the world of the extremely low-cost, low-end smartphone, at least if you live in India.

Mozilla's feature phone-priced smartphone went on sale on the website Snapdeal.com, India's largest e-marketplace, the company announced on Monday. The Firefox OS-powered Cloud FX sells for Rs 2490, but it's currently available at a 20 percent discount for Rs 1999, or around US $33 at current exchange rates. The Cloud FX is one-quarter the cost of the first phone in Google's low-cost AndroidOne phone program.

Mozilla wants the Cloud FX, built by Indian smartphone maker Intex Technologies, to be an affordable alternative to "dumb" feature phones that will help people in developing countries gain full Internet access. By running Firefox OS, Mozilla's mobile operating system that runs Web-based apps, Mozilla is also hoping that Firefox will thrive in a mobile world that has yet to warm up to the mobile version of the Web browser.

Since its debut on the ZTE Open a year ago in Spain, Firefox OS has launched on phones in more than 15 countries across Europe, Latin America, and South America. The Cloud FX is its first phone in an Asian country.

"The positive consumer feedback from other markets tells us that people like the unique user experience and openness we're building with Firefox OS," said Mozilla President Dr. Li Gong in a statement. "With support from Intex, Firefox OS smartphones in the ultra-low-cost category will redefine the entry-level smartphone and create strong momentum in Asia."

Overall, India is a small smartphone market now, but that's expected to rapidly change. By the end of this year, India is expected to host 104 million smartphone users, more than double the number at the end of 2013. That's less than one-tenth of India's overall population, which currently stands at 1.24 billion people.

By comparison, 1.35 billion people live in China, with about 700 million of them using smartphones.

The Cloud FX has a 3.5-inch, 320x480-pixel capacitive HVGA display, a 1 GHz Spreadtrum processor, a 2-megapixel camera, and supports two SIM cards. Intex said its 1250 mAh battery gives the Cloud FX around 4 hours of talk time and 200 hours of standby time.

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The Intex Cloud FX runs Web apps powered by HTML5, and works with Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp out of the box. Mozilla

It runs only on the 2G GSM 900 and 1800 MHz frequencies, and it comes with 128MB of RAM and 256MB of memory that can be expanded to 4GB. The Cloud FX lacks a GPS chip but comes with an FM radio, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

The phone comes preloaded with Facebook, Twitter, and a selection of games. People can also text to WhatsApp friends through the third-party app ConnectA2. It supports English, Hindi, and Tamil out of the box.

Update, 12:15 p.m. PT: Adds background on smartphone users in India and China.

 

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