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'14 likely won't see US$25 Firefox phone: analysts

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Price-conscious buyers looking to get their hands on the US$25 smartphone running Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox mobile operating system may be disappointed to hear that it is unlikely to hit the market this year, according to analysts in Taiwan.

“Outside of subsidies offered by telecom operators or manufacturers, the chances of seeing a US$25 Firefox OS smartphone on the market in 2014 will be extremely small,” said Luke Lin, an analyst and project manager with Taiwan-based Digitimes Research, in a Monday research note.

“That low price is more likely the cost of materials and production, not the final retail price,” he said of the device, debuted at the Mobile World Congress in Spain last month.

The Firefox smartphone has a relatively small 3.5-inch HVGA display on the outside and a low-end Spreadtrum Communications Inc.'s SC6821 processor. Combined with other components, the total cost to make the device is likely close to US$25, analysts estimate.

Even if some components drop in price, it could be a “long and difficult task” to lower the price below US$20, especially when considering channel profits.

The phone could ultimately sell below the US$50 price mark, analysts say, but that would leave it in fierce competition with similarly priced Android phones, some of which go for as low as US$50-60.

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