A few years ago, Mozilla dipped its toe into the smartphone arena with Firefox OS, a mobile operating system designed to compete head-on against Google Android, Apple’s iOS, and other players in the space.
A lightweight mobile OS based on HTML5, Firefox OS boasted all the bells and whistles of its competitors: messaging, email, a Web browser (Firefox, of course), and a Firefox-branded marketplace of HTML5 apps, including Twitter and Facebook. A few carriers even built phones with the OS, including Spain’s Telefonica.
For all of Mozilla’s hopes, though, the operating system never really took off with mobile users. Now the company intends on ending development on Firefox OS for smartphones after the version 2.6 release, according to a new posting on the company’s forums.
Instead of breaking into smartphones, Mozilla now plans to tackle the nascent market for connected devices. “The Connected Devices team has been testing our a new product innovation process with staff,” John Bernard and George Roter, a pair of Mozilla executives tasked with Connected Devices and Core Contributors, respectively, wrote in the posting. “[Three] products have passed the first ‘gate’ and many more are in the pipeline.”
Mozilla’s staff will examine “early-stage” ideas for commercial viability; that process will reportedly open to “non-staff participation” in the first half of the year, Bernard and Roter added: “The tricky part of this is how to navigate volunteer involvement in the inevitable reality of projects that don’t pass gates in the development cycle being wound-down quickly.”
Mozilla’s first connected-device project is a Smart TV loaded with Firefox OS. Other devices will presumably follow in short order. Although Firefox OS for smartphones never managed to threaten iOS or Android for marketplace dominancy, Mozilla evidently believes it has a chance to break into the Internet of Things. For independent developers interested in building software for connected devices, that might make Firefox OS worth checking out.