UPDATED: ZTE wants to bring Firefox smartphones to SA but MTN says no

Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE won’t be a well known name to most South African consumers, but to the rest of the world, ZTE is fast emerging as one of the major players in the smartphone industry. According to the latest figures from Gartner, ZTE accounted for 5% of the world’s smartphone shipments in the three Autumn months last year as well as 6% of the highly lucrative American market in 2013.

It’s no surprise then that ZTE is looking for a foothold in the South African smartphone market however, unlike most other smartphone manufacturers, ZTE will be leading its charge into South Africa using the nascent Firefox smartphone operating system.

Firefox OS comes from Mozilla, the same folks responsible for the Firefox internet browser, and it’s based on the Linux kernel just as its contemporaries in Google’s Android and Samsung’s Tizen. We’ve been tracking the OS for a while now and even had the chance to chat to Mozilla’s Director of Product for Firefox OS Chris Lee last year about why Firefox OS is a great fit for African smartphones.

According to our sources, ZTE is currently in talks with MTN about bringing in its Firefox smartphones with two models currently on the table for the yellow network to consider. One of them, a 4 inch display toting model, is considered which would more than likely make it the ZTE Open C. The Open C which has a display resolution of 480×800 is powered by a dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor and 512MB of RAM. Spec wise it would compete almost like for like with Vodacom’s Smart 4 Mini which was released last week.

We have a feeling that both ZTE and Firefox OS are undoubtedly going to be heard of more frequently by South Africans in the coming months.

Update 16/5

We’ve just received word from MTN that it will not be bringing the Firefox phones from ZTE into South Africa. The firm’s Mike Fairon says “MTN can confirm that it is not our intention to range the ZTE Firefox Phone”.




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