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At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, Telenor announced the rollout of Firefox OS smartphones in cooperation with Mozilla. “Taking a stake in the new open mobile eco-system is an important part of our Digital Services strategy, and will be one of the channels where customers can get access to innovative service offerings both from Telenor, but also from our group’s partners,” adds Spilling.
First phones to launch in Q4
“Open web devices will be a game-changer when it comes to bringing internet to the masses,” says Frode Vestnes, who heads the Open Web Device project team. He adds, “through the offering of affordable devices with a great customer experience, and connecting the unconnected to the web.”
The Open Web Device-project is on track to launch Firefox OS-based smartphones in Telenor’s CEE markets (Serbia, Montenegro and Hungary) in second half of 2013. For the next wave the offering is to stretch out to Asian markets, providing ultimately all of the group’s customer’s access to smartphones.
“We are a closely knit team between the project, the business units and our partners. This close cooperation is also a key enabler for the project’s success,” Vestnes adds.
Low-end to high-end
The first Firefox OS-based phones are primarily an entry-level smartphone offering. Today Android dominates the low-end smartphone market. However, as the growth potential in emerging markets is high, Firefox is aiming at this segment in the first phase, offering a highly competitive alternative.
“We are starting the rollout in Eastern Europe, due to our local capabilities and experiences in the region. However, we are planning to expand the Firefox OS footprint to Asia next year. We are already in discussions with some of the Asian business units, trying to build a great smartphone offering to our customers,” says Vestnes. Operator billing will be an important enabler for customers to get access to paid content and applications. In many of the Asian markets there is limited use of credit cards, and hence operator billing is an efficient alternative.
The Nordic market is one of the most highly penetrated smartphone markets in the world. “We do believe that Firefox OS devices, in time, will be launched as an alternative to the established eco-systems – however, we are not addressing these markets in an early phase,” adds Vestnes.
Did you say Firefox OS tablet?
Several telcos are cooperating on this new industry movement. The first smartphones to use Firefox OS will be available to consumers this summer through Telefonica, who is to launch their Firefox OS smartphones in South America. In addition, Device Vendors such as Sony, LG, Huawei, ZTE and Alcatel have signed up to develop and deliver smartphones running the Firefox OS.
To add to the excitement, Mozilla allegedly also has a Firefox OS tablet on the way. According to a press release sent out in early June, Foxconn (a new industry player joining the open web device initiative) and Mozilla will collaborate on numerous devices (mobile, tablet, lap top, TV, etc) using the HTML5-based Firefox OS.