Mozilla announces world’s cheapest smartphone – costing just $25

Smartphone ownership and internet connectivity could increase worldwide after Mozilla has announced a budget phone which will cost just $25.

Research has showed that by the end of 2013 22% of the global population were set to be the owners of smartphones. This roughly equals 1.4bn smartphones in use worldwide – the number passed the billion marks in October 2012.

However smartphone access is still only available to those who are in the higher end of the economic market.

Recent figures show that in Singapore, the country most penetrated by smartphones, there are 54% of people who use the advanced mobiles. For the USA and Australia this number falls to 35% and 33% respectively.

Budget mobile phones have been available in developing countries for many years now but Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, is trying to improve the accessibility of smartphones and access to the web for as many people as possible.

Mozilla’s partnership with Spreadtrum, a chipset manufacturer, could help to pave the way for budget smartphones to be introduced into developing markets – both companies hope they will be able to increase access to information globally.

In producing what is likely to be one of the first budget smartphones, Mozilla has cleverly positioned itself away from the likes of Apple and Samsung who have all but got dominance in the high-end smartphone market.

Mozilla says that its new smartphones are already creating a stir with operators such as Telenor, Telkomsel and Indosat, who are all interested in carrying the phone.

Mozilla’s senior vice president of mobile devices and president of Asia operations, Dr Li Gong, said: “The combination of Firefox OS with Spreadtrum’s entry-level smartphone platforms has the potential to dramatically extend the reach of smartphones and the web globally.

“Firefox OS delivers a customized, fun and intuitive experience for first-time smartphone buyers and our collaboration with Spreadtrum enables the industry to offer customers an extremely affordable way to get a smartphone and connect with web apps.”

Spreadtrum says that the $25 phone will expand the global accessibility of open and web-enabled smartphones to first time and entry-level smartphone customers. It says it will achieve this by reducing the time and cost required for handset makers to bring the devices to the market.

The chipset that has been demonstrated has been designed with a unique low memory configuration that reduces the total bill of materials that is required to develop low-end smartphones.

The phone was announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and will naturally be running the Firefox operating system, which is now being used in 15 different mobile markets worldwide.

Image courtesy of Ict4d / Flickr creative commons

3D virtual dressing room coming to eBay

The days of grabbing a last minute bargain dress on eBay for it only to be delivered days later and not fit may be over following the website’s latest purchase.

The auction giant has puts its hand in its pockets and purchased computer graphics company PhiSix who create 3D models of clothing from photos, pattern files and other sources.

Once the software is introduced to eBay it will allow customers to see what their potential purchases will look like on their bodies before they have even placed a bid on the item.

The financial details of the deal unfortunately haven’t been disclosed but eBay’s vice president of innovation and new ventures, Steve Yankovich, praised the work that PhiSix have been doing and said that it will be of a huge benefit to eBay’s customers.

He said: “PhiSix’s technology enables consumers to understand the fit and movement of clothes in an online shopping environment.

“Consumers can experience the merchandise in a more efficient and impactful way, which we believe will drive sales for retailers and create a delightful experience for shoppers.”

PhiSix claims its technology can help to solve one of the most common problems that online shoppers face – the fit and look of products. It says that the virtual fitting room it provides allows shoppers to determine the fit with physically accurate simulations of the clothes they want to purchase.

As well as showing customers what clothes will look like the technology is also able to recommend a size for the user’s body based on the basic measurement inputs – which the customer will provide. The technology also allows shoppers to use the virtual fitting room in a variety of scenarios, such as walking down the street, rather than just being in a dressing room.

The fashion technology company is relatively young when compared to its new owners. PhiSix was founded in 2012 by Jonathan Su, a former Intel research scientist who completed a PhD in computer science at Stanford University, US.

This technology could help to enhance the shopping experience for eBay’s customers and the company is certainly hoping it will. However there will undoubtedly be a lot of teething problems and the results of the clothing which is shown on the customers will most likely depend on the level of information provided by the seller.

Nonetheless PhiSix’s founder Su is looking forward to working with his new bosses. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to bring PhiSix’s expertise to one of the world’s leading commerce platforms,” he said.

“We believe today’s acquisition will help us better scale our expertise and meet the needs of digitally-minded shoppers and create new customer experiences for the eBay Inc. portfolio.”

Image courtesy of eBay.