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Mozilla gives up on its dream of a $25 Firefox smartphone

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Mozilla is learning that making smartphones dirt cheap doesn't guarantee success when you're running up against Google's Android operating system. CNET reports that in an email to employees sent out on Thursday, CEO Chris Beard made it clear that the company will soon be changing its mobile strategy. "We have not seen sufficient traction for a $25 phone," Beard wrote. He went on to say, "We will focus on efforts that provide a better user experience, rather than focusing on cost alone."

Reality sets in

That's not to say that Mozilla will exclusively be targeting the high-end iPhone and Android flagship market. The company seems determined to produce enticing options across a broad range of prices, and more Mozilla employees will likely be asked to help gauge just how Firefox OS phones stack up against an endless sea of Android competition. "While we won't be able to live and breathe on each and every target device for our core product and technology, we can on phones that are powerful enough for each of us to make our primary phone," Beard wrote. His email even mentions that Mozilla will continue to explore developing feature phones — presumably employees won't be forced to carry those around.

Mozilla is thinking about adding support for Android apps as another way of giving Firefox OS a boost. Beard hints this would be limited to "key apps" rather than allowing any and all Android apps onto the platform.

So Firefox OS phones are still very much alive. "Firefox OS is critical to ensure the Web remains the single greatest public resource the world has ever known," Beard wrote. It just sounds as though Mozilla is backing away from the idea that it's feasible to make any kind of decent smartphone for $25. That's probably for the best since our hands-on time with its proof-of-concept $25 device at Mobile World Congress produced plenty of frustration and little else. That simply won't do when lined up next to "sophisticated competition from the most aggressive and largest technology companies in the world" as Beard put it.