Mozilla Plans Cheap Smartphones for Emerging Markets

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd aims to extend its business to provide devices and applications that build on Mozilla's Firefox operating system in a bid to diversify away from the company's core contract manufacturing business that yields low margins.

The world's largest contract electronics manufacturer said on Monday it will launch a series of products running Firefox, including smartphones, tablets, TVs, electronic whiteboards and outdoor displays. The company said there are currently more than five devices in development.

"The (major) operating systems in the market now are not doing good enough...the Mozilla solution will complement what other operating systems lack, such as Android in native mode. There is currently no solution based on HTML5 and open Web technologies," said Young Liu, general manager of the Foxconn Innovation Digital System Business Group at a press conference.

Hon Hai, better known by its trading name Foxconn and a major supplier to Apple Inc, showed no devices at the conference.

Liu said the company is investing in a new unit in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan with an planned 500-1,000 employees to work with Mozilla to develop hardware, software, content and services. Liu stressed that Hon Hai will not start its own brand but aims to provide solutions for its branded clients.

Currently, most of the mobile devices that Hon Hai manufactures run on Apple's iOS and Google Inc's Android system.

Mozilla, the non-profit organization that evolved from Netscape, said it is working with five manufacturers including Alcatel, TCL Communication Technology, LG Electronics, ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies to build the first Firefox OS devices.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Matt Driskill)