Mozilla gives up on Firefox OS smartphone dreams

December 10, 2015 | 11:48

Tags: #android #chrome-os #embedded #firefox #firefox-os #html5 #internet-of-things #ios #iot #smartphone

Companies: #mozilla

Despite some early success in the market, Mozilla has announced that it is giving up on its dreams of smartphone domination and ceasing development on Firefox OS as a mobile platform - but, rather than abandoning its creation entirely, investigating its potential uses in the embedded market.

Firefox OS had an impressive enough launch back in 2013: despite going up against the Android-iOS duopoly, interest in the first devices was strong enough to crash the official website of its first partner Geeksphone. Likewise, when ZTE launched a Firefox OS device - sold, oddly, though eBay - it found its initial stocks rapidly depleted. Sadly, that burst of initial interest in a mobile platform built around the concept of locally-accessible web apps running in an HTML5 browser engine - the same central concept behind Google's Chrome OS - did not translate into long-lasting sales, and poor hardware plus a lack of third-party development appears to have put paid to the project.

Announced at the Mozilla developer conference in Orlando, Florida, Firefox OS as smartphone platform is no more: development has ceased, and the company is no longer looking for OEMs with which to partner on new launches. It hasn't been a complete waste of time, however: Mozilla's senior vice president for connected devices Ari Jaaksi has stated that the project is being pivoted, rather than cancelled outright. 'Everything is connected around us. This revolution has already started and it will be bigger than previous technology revolutions, including the mobile smartphone revolution. Internet of Things, as many call it today, will fundamentally affect all of us. We will prototype this future starting right now using technologies developed as part of the Firefox OS project to give us a kick start,' Jaaksi claimed. 'We will make space for this exploration by stopping our work to build and ship smartphones through carrier partners.'

For those with existing Firefox OS devices, though, the news of a cessation of development is bad. Whether a separate group will pick the open-source project up and continue where Mozilla is leaving off, in order to add new features and fix bugs and security holes in the platform for existing users, remains to be seen.
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