Spice Firefox phone draws curtains on the ‘dumb phone’ era

The much awaited smartphone platform for the masses, Firefox OS, is finally here. Spice, one of the two Indian companies chosen by Mozilla as its hardware platform for the low-cost smartphone revolution, has announced the fruits of its labor.


The move is intended to make smartphones accessible to everyone by lowering the entry barrier. The first Firefox OS phone, Spice Fire One Mi-FX 1, will be available for just Rs 2,300 (3$8). In comparison, the cheapest Android phone costs about Rs 3,300.

The Spice Fire One Mi-FX 1 will come with a 1 GHz processor, 2.5 G connectivity, 8.89 cm HVGA (480*360) capacitive touch screen and 2MP primary camera and a 1.3 MP front camera.

It won’t have 3G, but will support two GSM SIMs at the same time. In comparison, the cheapest fully-functional Android smartphone available in India, the BQ S37 Plus, is priced at Rs 3,295. There are, of course, sub-3000 rupee Android phones as well, but they come with the Android 2 operating system which was released three years ago.

But comparing Android 2.3 with Mozilla will be like comparing a 5-year-old Maruti 800 with a brand new Tata Nano.

The Firefox OS has been designed from ground up to be run on low-power hardware, and to make developers’ lives easier.

Of course, Firefox OS adds another number to the variety of platforms that developers have to write their applications for, but Mozilla, the force behind the OS, has tried to make it as easy as possible by allowing for Javascript and HTML 5 in its apps. The apps themselves are simpler and easier to develop and deploy.

“This is a step towards enabling the dreams of the small town masses of connecting with their aspirations through affordable smartphones,” said Prashant Bindal, Chief Executive Officer, Spice Mobility.

“With the ultra-low cost Spice Fire One, we at Spice, aim to convert the feature phone users into smartphone users, thereby, aiding them with the power of internet. Our intentions are clearly to synthesize technology and style in our products and make them available at affordable prices.”

Indeed it will be the death of the feature phones, or phones with proprietary operating systems. Ever since mobile phones started coming out in the early 90s, most vendors have had their operating software.

The Firefox OS most likely draws the era to an end, and the OS is expected to be found in phones as cheap as Rs 1,500 ($25) soon.

“Just one year after the first Firefox OS device launched, Firefox OS smartphone is now available in 17 countries across Europe, Asia and Latin America… we can ensure every user to enjoy the power of Web,” said Dr. Li Gong, President of Mozilla Corporation.

However, it is not just about cost either. Mozilla, as the vanguard of the open web, can also claim to be offering the most ‘open’ of all operating systems.

“Firefox OS smartphone is the first device powered completely by Web technologies and offers all that the users need – calls, messaging, email, camera and more,” Spice said.

The phone will have social networking and instant messaging apps and will initially be available on snapdeal.com, before being distributed on other platforms as well.