VIDEO INTERVIEW: Mozilla’s secret to driving down the cost of smartphones using its Firefox OS lies in optimising its software for lower-cost hardware, according to the company’s COO, Li Gong.

Speaking to Mobile World Live, the executive said: “Sometimes the margin on the low-cost phones could be actually bigger than higher cost hardware because it’s a question of what OS you put on and what optimisation you can get from the OS.”

The first Firefox OS phones were priced between $70 and $80 but the company quickly realised there was demand for smartphones at an even lower price point.

“We heard lots of demand for lower prices — below $50, below $40 phones. And we hear loud and clear that the market for that sort of segment, where you convert feature phone users to smartphone users, [is] a huge market for us,” Gong explained.

To that end, Mozilla has announced plans to support a $25 smartphone.

In order to reduce smartphone costs while maintaining margins, Mozilla worked with Spreadtrum to optimise Firefox OS for a low cost platform being developed by the chipmaker with just 128MB of RAM. This compares to the standard 256MB for Firefox OS devices and 512MB configuration for higher-end devices.

“We are able to offer a comparable smartphone experience at a much lower cost and so even though the total price point is lower, the margin is enough to motivate all the partners involved,” Gong said.

To find out what else the Mozilla COO had to say, check out the full interview.