Firm excitement over emerging possibilities



Tech companies have been outlining plans to roll out smartphones into emerging markets at Mobile World Congress 2013

It was a no-brainer really - smartphones have not been selling as well in developing countries, probably due to eye-watering prices for many in poorer nations, so one of the key trends from this year's Mobile World Congress has been companies falling over each other to get into emerging markets.

Firefox Stand

The potential benefits for companies that had previously looked beaten by the likes of Apple or Android are massive.

But it could also bring about a huge change in how countries develop, how people interact with each other, conduct business and even how they engage with democracy - if they live in one.

Twitter's announcement this week that it had made an app for the new Firefox smartphone operating system, revealed on Sunday, typified this multiple mass effect.

So many have commented on how the 140-character social network can get people and celebrities in trouble with the law, or can be troublesome for the law itself.

Putting it in the hands of potentially millions of new customers in the likes of Latin America, Eastern Europe, India and China may or may not see a continuation of that.

But giving more developing nations access to it from their pockets can only mean more freedom to express opinions and engage with democracy.

However, it's not all serious - think of how people might congregate in the squares of Rio, Delhi or Caracas and dance Gangnam Style all at once in a Twitter flashmob. The possibilities truly are endless.

The Mozilla Firefox stall was ablaze with buzzing interest on the second day of MWC as people began to get their heads around the possibilities of the open web smartphone operating system.

Mozilla's head of innovation, Todd Simpson, explains: "There's about two billion on the web today, the next two billion will actually come on to the web using smartphones as their first access device and we would love for them to come on the web using Firefox OS.

"We very much like an equal playing field for everybody in the world so by giving them access to the web we'll see all kinds of innovative technologies such as Twitter and Facebook and so on, but also very localised technologies."

"I think the web has changed peoples' lives and will continue to do so and getting it into the hands of more people at a very affordable price point is important for us."

Just think of the possible benefits for Mozilla. Beaten to the punch by Apple, Google Android, and even Windows 8, they have figured out a way to muscle in on the smartphone market.


Whether it will work remains to be seen. Prices haven't yet been listed for the ZTE Open, the first Firefox phone, which is due to launch in Spain, Venezuela and Colombia this summer.

But with 17 network operators spanning the globe on board, and with the likes of LG, Alcatel and the hugely exciting Chinese company Huawei signed up to make the phones, there truely is great promise in this project.