You may think of Firefox as a browser. But the non-profit Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary Mozilla Corporation which developed Firebox have now developed a phone operating system as well. And soon you can buy an “unlocked” phone from ZTE in snazzy orange with that operating system at a very low price – just $79.99.
That price may not sound so attractive at first. After all, many small business owners today may get their phones at a very low rate or even free with their mobile plan. But remember, that plan, in many cases, includes a two year contract and essentially subsidizes the cost of your phone, which may retail for closer to $650.
An Unlocked Phone and an Open Source App Store
The difference here is that (as mentioned before) the ZTE Firefox phone will be unlocked. This means you are not limited to service from a single mobile carrier and can choose whatever mobile plan suits you or switch plans easily without switching phones. This could include a pay-as-you-go plan, for example, as opposed to a two year contract.
An unlocked phone also gives small business owners and entrepreneurs who travel internationally the option to save money on their mobile service while abroad. Instead of purchasing an expensive international plan from your existing carrier, you can often buy a much cheaper pre-paid plan when you reach your destination and simply use it while you are there.
Mozilla has even set up a Firefox Marketplace where you can find apps for your new phone. It includes popular choices like Twitter and Facebook already. And while there may not be much of a selection yet, the store is open source meaning anyone can develop for it. So chances are selection will be increasing as the Firefox operating system becomes more popular.
Another Mobile Option, If It Catches On
It’s also important to remember that the new Firefox operating system offers another choice besides the big three: Apple, Android and Windows. But that’s only if it catches on, so don’t throw out your other phone just yet.
Also, don’t expect the same smoothness of operation you get from some other phones. A review from Engadget does state that the Firefox OS is “laggy,” meaning that scrolling is slow and it takes a while for websites to load. Of course, the low cost and other aspects may more than make up for this in many small business owners’ books.
If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of the Firefox operating system before now, that’s because phones using it have only been available in places like South America and Europe thus far. But ZTE, a Chinese manufacturer, has decided to offer the phones online, which will make them available to a wider customer base, including the U.S. market.
There’s no definite date when sales of the phone will go live, but ZTE is reportedly building a store on Ebay to start selling them soon. For now, watch Jay Sullivan, chief operating officer of Mozilla, demonstrate operation of the Firefox operating system. But keep in mind that while the ZTE device Sullivan shows off is blue, ZTE says this will not be the color of the phone it will be selling online.