Airtel chief Sunil Mittal to achieve again as Mozilla offers $50 smartphone

Telecom Lead India: Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Mittal’s ambition of offering smartphones priced below $50 will come true to soon.

Mozilla, the provider of Firefox web browser, is going to take active role in rolling out budget smartphones. It will challenge the supremacy of Nokia, Samsung, Google, etc.

Mozilla on Monday said it would join hands with mobile phone makers to launch smartphones priced below $50 in emerging markets in India and China.

The chief of Airtel, which has mobile operations in Asia and Africa, had urged mobile phone heads and other stakeholders to work together to bring out $50 smartphones, when he addressed Mobile World Congress in 2012 at Barcelona.

In the last 18 months, no handset vendor or operating system provider could commit to offer $50 smartphones. Most of the budget smartphones are priced at around Rs 5,000 in India.

Last year, GSMA Director General Anne Bouverot told that launch of sub $50 smartphone will be a distant dream since she’s not seeing any significant action from stakeholders. That time, Mozilla was not active enough for the global telecom industry to expect a budget smartphone.

During that period, Bharti Airtel, the #1 telecom player in India, and a number of other telecom operators were in the process of expanding their 3G and mobile Internet business. Availability of budget smartphones will add strong stimulus to their growth plans across the world.

This will be a major fillip for aspiring 3G and mobile data subscribers in markets such as India and China.

Ericsson Mobility Report says around 60 million WCDMA/HSPA (3G) subscriptions were added globally in the first quarter of 2013. On the other hand, LTE / 4G technology has added 20 million new subscriptions in Q1 2013 and GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions added 30 million.

Though billionaire Sunil Mittal is aggressively pushing ahead with its 3G plans, the number of 3G subscribers of Airtel is not growing significantly due to lack of budget smartphones in India.

Recently, Airtel’s India CEO Gopal Vittal said the company would expand 3G business as it seeks to improve revenue streams.

Mozilla aims to secure a 10 percent share of the global smartphone market, though it didn’t say when it expects to achieve that target.

“We see huge opportunities in the emerging markets where the customers and carriers crave for affordable smartphones. We focus on the low-cost segment because it is underserved,” Mozilla Senior Vice President of Mobile Devices Li Gong told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

Sub-$50 is a sweet spot for emerging markets like India and China.

Meanwhile, Chinese handset companies ZTE and TCL Communications will launch Firefox smartphones in Latin America this summer.

Recently, ZTE said it has finalized its launch plans to sell smartphones directly in the Indian telecom market.

Baburajan K
[email protected]