Mozilla Reaffirms its Focus on Emerging Markets for Firefox OS
You have to hand it to Mozilla: The company is staying true to its goals with its new Firefox OS mobile platform. Despite the fact that Mozilla is shifting its whole company strategy to align behind Firefox OS and mobile goals, despite new manufacturers signing on to produce phones, and despite some promising initial sales for Firefox OS phones in the U.S. and U.K., Mozila appears to be staying focused on emerging markets for Firefox OS. Mitchell Baker, one of the company's longest standing voices, has said that there are no current plans to launch Firefox OS phones in the U.S.
CNET quoted Baker saying:
"For most of the world, price is really important. But for us, a $500 phone, how many of us have one. How many cents you can shave off the bottom of the phone is the driving factor."
This, of course, matches what Gary Kovacs, who was CEO of Mozilla when the Firefox OS plans launched, had to say. At an All Things D conference, he said:
"In Silicon Valley we tend to see the world through high-end devices. But that’s not true in the rest of the world. So in the short term, we’re launching in emerging markets where Firefox is particularly strong. … It didn’t make sense for us to launch a version-one device around the world."
That's not to say that there is no market in the U.S. or the U.K. for Firefox OS phones. As we reported previously. the ZTE Open Firefox OS phone (shown above) recently sold via eBay in the U.S. and U.K. and Mozilla officials confirmed the news with some fanfare, noting that unlocked phones were selling for $79.99 and users could easily pick their own carriers. The phones quickly sold out, causing some observers to wonder if these phones might be a hit outside of emerging markets.
This could all change if, say, Mozilla can get interest in Firefox OS phones from major carriers in the U.S. and the U.K., but perhaps a very focused strategy on picking low hanging fruit is right for Mozilla. There is no doubt that many users outside of developing markets want Firefox OS phones, but that's not where Mozilla is placing its mobile bets.