Shruti DhapolaAug 26, 2014 16:27:40 IST
Mozilla's second Firefox-OS smartphone (after the Spice Fire One) is officially out in India, and this one is billed as India's cheapest smartphone. The Intex Cloud FX is priced at Rs 1,990 and will be exclusively available on Snapdeal. Intex has also teamed up with Aircel to provide Aircel users who buy the phone 1GB Data free for two months.
As far as the smartphone is concerned, the specs aren't something that would make any smartphone lover drool. A 2 megapixel camera, 128 MB RAM, a 3.5-inch screen, none of this sounds like a dream phone. And the truth is that it's not trying to be a dream phone - at least not for users who have already bought their first Android or Windows phone. Firefox and Intex are targetting an audience that is buying their first smartphone, often in Tier-II and Tier-III cities, and the budget for these users is similar to how much they would spend on a feature phone.
It should be remembered that according to the latest IDC numbers, out of the 63.21 million units of mobiles that were shipped in India in Q2 in 2014, 71 percent were still feature phones. Vendors shipped only a 18.42 million smartphones in India in Q2 2014. But the good news is that the smartphone market is growing at a faster rate (close to 84 percent) and this growth will continue. And this where Intex and Firefox are hoping to fit in. Keshav Bansal, Director Marketing at Intex told Tech2, "The expectations are very high. As far as short-term is concerned, we are looking at half a million smartphones of Cloud Fx." He added that the USP of this smartphone is the product is user-friendly.
"Price is the biggest attraction for this product. It's not very complicated to use. So for someone upgrading from a feature phone to smartphone, Mozilla should be a phenomenal experience," he said.
Given that both Mozilla and Intex are targetting an audience that is buying their first smartphone, we also asked whether it was restrictive to make this product available only on an online platform like Snapdeal. Bansal said they didn't see it as restrictive. "Snapdeal's core strength is the presence in the Tier-II and Tier-III market as compared to the other e-commerce guys. And this where we are hoping to grow, so I don't see this being a limitation at all," he said. Bansal added that Intex would user "a lot of marketing tool", and would "aggressively promote this product."
The Cloud FX is a basic smartphone; it's got a 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen with 480×320 pixels resolution. Intex has packed in a 1GHz Spreadtrum processor along with 128 MB of RAM with 256 MB total space. It has a 2 megapixel rear camera and comes with dual-SIM support. However, this is a 2G-only phone (which is a big drawback in our opinion) with support for Wi-Fi for further Internet connectivity. The Cloud FX takes in microSD cards, but support is limited up to 4GB only. It comes with a 1250mAh battery.
But for the price point at which this smartphone is starting, which is Rs 1999, it stands ahead of the competition. For starters, the 3.5-inch screen is bigger than most feature phones for under Rs 2000. Most feature phones in this range have a 1.8 screen with a keyboard. The screen size in this category goes up to 2.6-inches at the most in case of Micromax Bolt X287 and Lava KKT 27i which has a 2.8-inch screen. But neither of these are smartphones with an app ecosystem to speak of.
The smartphone doesn't look particularly great and would probably remind you of a smartphone from 3 or 4 years back, but the fact that Intex wants you to pay Rs 2000 for this, is actually great. With the device that we tried out, we noticed that it did take time to respond to touches, which is not surprising given that it has minimal RAM and only a single-core processor. And sure the 2 megapixel camera isn't the most appealing, but then you're paying pittance for the phone.
The most important feature of the phone that needs discussion is the Firefox OS. It should be noted that everything on the OS is web-based, and that apps are actually much smaller in size than they would be on Android. For instance, the Facebook app is around 400 KB on this. All apps are supposed on HTML-5 and yes the Mozilla Marketplace doesn't quite have all the apps. For instance, the smartphone doesn't have WhatsApp but something called ConnectA2 where users can put in their telephone number, nickname and message share with friends on WhatsApp. Apps are going to be an issue that Firefox needs to deal and quickly, especially if it wants to sell smartphones at the mid-range level as well.
While we did see apps like Facebook, YouTube, even a version of Instagram and Twitter on the phone, the limited functionality of these apps, is a definite barrier to the growth of the Firefox OS.
The other problem is that since 2G phone, Internet connectivity can be a bit of a problem in a country like where 2G is a truly poor network to be on. For a first smartphone user, who is limited to 2G that is slow and doesn't always work, a Firefox phone could end up being a big turn-off. The bad news for Firefox could be that lot of people who buy this device might not want a Firefox OS phone again simply because of the 2G issue. A Firefox device with 3G at a slightly higher price point would have been much more effective, but perhaps these are already in the works.
On the flip side, the Intex Cloud FX could also be the device that convinces first time smartphone buyers that smartphones are a great idea after all and mobile Internet connectivity is the way to go. The only problem is that after using Firefox OS for a few months, they might want to upgrade to a smartphone that offers more in terms of features, apps and performance.
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