The nonprofit that brought us free and open Web browsing now wants to do the same thing for smartphones, and its new Cloud FX phone is another step toward that goal. Mozilla on Monday unveiled its ultra-low-cost phone for the Indian market, the Cloud FX smartphone by Intex Technologies, aiming to make the Internet more accessible to the masses. While most smartphones are locked into the ecosystems of the giant companies that produce their operating systems -- Google's Android, Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows, among others -- Mozilla's phones are powered by the open-source Firefox OS, which has no connection to major software developers.
Mozilla, the group behind the free Firefox Web browser, showcased its first Firefox OS devices in February at the World Mobile Congress. Since then, similar devices like the ZTE Open and Alcatel One Touch Fire have broken into markets including the U.S., U.K., Germany and Russia.
The Cloud FX will be available exclusively on Snapdeal.com, selling for 1,999 rupees ($33). The hardware for the Cloud FX is quite low-end, featuring a 3.5-inch capacitive display, a 1 GHz processor, expandable memory of as much as 4GB, a 2-megapixel camera and dual-SIM capabilities. Other specifications include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and support for several languages, including Hindi and Tamil. Aside from its miniscule price tag, the device’s primary feature is its operating system.
“The positive consumer feedback from other markets tells us that people like the unique user experience and openness we’re building with Firefox OS,” Mozilla President Dr. Li Gong said on the company blog.
Mozilla describes its Firefox OS as “made of the Web.” The open-source operating system is based on the Linux kernel, making it highly customizable. Mozilla hopes the software’s open nature will attract several types of consumers, from savvy users to developers and industry partners. In particular, Mozilla has teamed up with mobile carriers to develop custom applications for devices. Similar to its Firefox browser, the system has no connection to major software developers like Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT), which means users won’t be forced into a certain ecosystem.
Google, in particular, has been criticized for injecting its products and services into all forms of Web activity. Examples include users being required to log in to their Google accounts to access such content as YouTube and Android device users being able to sync their smartphones to their Google accounts. Users would not find such requirements on a Firefox OS-powered smartphone.