After realizing Firefox OS was not going to be the mobile operating system it dreamed of, Mozilla has officially announced that the platform is no longer being worked on.
In a blog post on the Mozilla developer forum, the company noted that it has now stopped development on all Firefox OS projects internally. Its Connected Devices team, which continued developing Firefox OS as a tier-3 platform within the company after the decision was made to scrap it late last year, also stated that “Firefox OS TV was a project to be run by our commercial partner and not a project to be led by Mozilla.”
The mobile operating system will also be distanced from Firefox proper. “While work at Mozilla on Firefox OS has ceased, we very much need to continue to evolve the underlying code that comprises Gecko, our web platform engine, as part of the ongoing development of Firefox,” the posting added. “In order to evolve quickly and enable substantial new architectural changes in Gecko, Mozilla’s Platform Engineering organization needs to remove all B2G-related code from mozilla-central.”
In addition, anyone within the community who wants to continue working on B2G OS will “have to maintain a code base that includes a full version of Gecko, so will need to fork Gecko and proceed with development on their own, separate branch.”
While Mozilla has its fans, there’s no getting around the obvious drawbacks of Firefox OS. The software was slower, with fewer native features and apps (it relied on the mobile web for most of its functionality) and little space to grow in a crowded domestic mobile market. In a time where consumers can choose between iOS or Android, Firefox failed to make a meaningful statement.
Sadly, there’s nowhere to pivot, either. Unlike Samsung’s Tizen, Firefox OS can’t serve as anything but a mobile operating system. (Though Samsung has released Tizen smartphones, its main use-case is now wearables, which pair nicely with Samsung’s various Android devices.)
Ultimately, this decision was made to allow Mozilla to continue to iterate on its desktop framework without having to consider a technology it has already decided to move away from. In culling the mobile OS, Mozilla now has a lot more freedom. Mobile was a misstep for Firefox, and discontinuing work on it will only help Mozilla push its desktop and mobile browsers further.