It looks as if the highly competitive budget smartphone market is about to get a bit more crowded. Mozilla, parent company for the popular open source search engine Firefox, has announced its intentions to launch a line of budget handsets primarily targeted at emerging markets. The firm has partnered with a number of carriers and manufacturers, most notably telecom giant Orange, to develop and market a low cost, entry level, smartphone that will be sold in Africa, Asia, and other parts of the developing world. The Orange Klif will run Mozilla’s Firefox operating system, and will sell for around £25 (€35).
The Importance of Developing Markets
Over the last few years the smartphone boom has begun to level off. Wealthier markets, like Japan, Europe, and North America, have become saturated with both budget and high end products. This has caused many smartphone manufacturers to look at the developing world for new opportunities. But tapping these emerging markets is not a wholly cynical move. The developing world offers an opportunity for smartphone manufacturers and software developers to answer some very real telecommunications problems. Many of these emerging markets have very limited communications infrastructures, and mobile connectivity is the best solution to their communications needs. Smartphones, providing basic communication with access to the internet, answers most of those needs. However, the adoption of hitherto expensive smartphones has been understandably slow in many developing regions. Mozilla’s low cost Klif smartphone is poised to change all of that.
A Closer Look at the Orange Klif
Mozilla’s Orange Klif is a basic, entry level, smartphone. It is small, and lightweight, with a 3.5 inch display that recalls earlier budget priced Android devices. Under the hood is a dual-core 1GHz processor, 256 MB of memory and 512 MB of storage. Storage can also be expanded via the microSD card slot. The Klif also features dual SIM card slots, a popular smartphone feature in developing regions where handsets are often shared between family members. The dual SIM card feature also allows users to easily switch between carriers, an important consideration for emerging markets where carrier coverage is often limited and intermittent.
The Orange Klif will run the latest Firefox operating system, which Mozilla says makes it ideal for first time smartphone users. The Firefox OS is easy to use, and doesn’t require any online registration. The intuitive interface has been designed to be easily accessible by both literate and illiterate users. Mozilla says the Klif can be up and running in seconds. All the owner has to do is pop in the battery and SIM card, and the phone is ready for use. This ease of use is intended to make the Orange Klif a simple step up for consumers who have previously only had access to standard feature phones.
The Orange Klif is slated to launch in select markets within the next few months, beginning with Egypt, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Kenya. The project will then expand further into the Middle East and Asia. Customers who step up to the Orange Klif will receive unlimited texts, unlimited calls, and 500 MB of 3G data a month for the first six months. After the first six months, customers will be able to switch to a pay-as-you-go tariff.
At £25 the Orange Klif is the most affordable full featured smartphone yet developed for emerging markets. But the Orange Klif is about more than simply filling basic communications needs. Mozilla wants their budget line of smartphones to help bring billions of new users to the internet. Because internet access can be extremely limited in some developing regions, the firm sees the Klif as an ideal way to bring more users to the world wide web. Mozilla’s remit has always been to make the web accessible to all, and with the Orange Klif they are moving one step closer to that goal.