Mozilla Makes Mobile Play For Emerging Markets

Many believe that within the next few years, the world will have more mobile phones than people.

Such a future took one step closer to becoming reality yesterday, when Mozilla announced that they will be partnering with various mobile phone manufacturers to design low-priced smartphones for emerging markets.  

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mozilla has proposed to create a smartphone priced below $50, which will further promote use in less-affluent regions.

The company behind the Firefox Web browser, Mozilla chose the right time to expand its operations to smartphones. Mobile phone penetration is gaining speed all over the globe, and especially in developing nations.

Mobile devices such as the Android from Google, and iOS from Apple, have dominated the smartphone market to this point. However, there is plenty of room for lower-cost product growth.

Li Gong, senior VP of mobile devices at Mozilla, stated, “We see huge opportunities in the emerging markets where the customers and carriers carve for affordable smartphones.

We focus on the low-cost segment because it is underserved.”

At the end of 2012, Citibank reported that more than 2 billion people in emerging markets had less than $2 to spend each day, and did not have access to financial services.

That smartphone use can serve as a portal to financial inclusion has been demonstrated around the world, perhaps most notable by M-Pesa’s serve in Kenya and in other underserved markets.

M-Pesa now has 17 million active users in Kenya alone, and is expected to see rapid growth thanks to this week’s announcement that Safricom will update M-Pesa over the next 18 months.

Across the world, mobile payments transactions have grown by 49 percent over the past four years, according to a Citibank report.

If Mozilla gives consumers in developing countries the opportunity to purchase affordable smartphones prices, numerous financial gateways could open.

People who once had limited access to the Internet or to bank branches will be given the chance to make money transfers or register for online banking via smartphones. They would also be able to take advantage of non-bank financial programs.

Future avenues that could also arise from an increase in smartphone adoption are the use of NFC technology and mobile wallet schemes.

Mozilla claimed it aims to make an aggressive push into the mobile arena, and provide two billion low-priced smartphones for first-time consumers in emerging markets.

Gong said Mozzilla aims to obtain a 10 percent share of the worldwide smartphone market, but did not disclose a target deadline.

To read the full story at the WSJ click here, or to read the Citibank report click here

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