Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox web browser and Firefox OS, recently launched its first smartphones in India for the affordable price of $33. The phone is known as the Intex Cloud FX, and it could do more for Bitcoin adoption in the developing world than any of the high-profile startups in Silicon Valley.
After all, how are these people who are in desperate need of access to banking, online commerce, and hedges against inflation supposed to use Bitcoin if they aren't connected at all times? Although Bitcoin is already available to feature phone users through text messaging, these new phones from Mozilla allow individuals to have more control over their bitcoins.
Mozilla's Plan for Developing Nations
Although the Intex Cloud FX is the first smartphone running Firefox OS in Asia, Mozilla has already launched similar phones in various countries around South America, Latin America, and Europe. The company plans to stick to the low-end smartphone model, and it could be a serious challenger to Google's AndroidOne program. In addition to offering their affordable smartphones in India, Mozilla also hopes to launch products in Russia and Africa before the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how Mozilla's first foray into India's smartphone market could affect the decisions of mobile providers in other nations. After seeing the launch of their first devices running Firefox OS in 2013, the wireless phone companies in South Africa did not seem impressed.
Mozilla Makes Asia Debut With $33 Smartphone in India. Means faster rate of Bitcoin adoption in India. http://t.co/Jo1qJfFCk7
— Edmund Moy (@EdmundCMoy) August 26, 2014
Bitcoin on Firefox OS
Firefox OS seems like an operating system begging for a Bitcoin app, and Mozilla definitely understands the power of digital currencies in emerging markets. The company featured the Bitcoin logo as a placeholder for the types of apps that are available on the phone in an advertisement released in late 2013 (see below). There are currently two Bitcoin wallets on the Firefox Marketplace, and the number of Bitcoin apps available in this app ecosystem is bound to grow as these phones are put into the hands of more people in developing countries around the world. There's always going to be an "app gap" for new mobile operating systems, but Firefox OS lends itself to much more demand for Bitcoin apps than offerings from Microsoft or Apple.
Bitcoin Tablet Project
While on the topic of mobile technology in developing nations, it should be mentioned that there is a project in Kenya that aims to bring more tablets to the African country. The point of bringing these tablets into Kenya is to help merchants and consumers learn about Bitcoin and the benefits that it can bring to them. Payment providers, such as PayPal, are blocked in Kenya, so Bitcoin could be an option for Kenyans who wish to join the global economy. M-PESA is a mobile payment network that has already become popular in various countries around Africa, so the value of mobile payments is not something that needs to be explained to the African people. There are plenty of countries where Bitcoin adoption makes sense, but they'll need the proper technology to take advantage of everything the world's most popular cryptocurrency has to offer.