Farewell Firefox OS smartphones. Mozilla today announced an end to its smartphone experiment, and said that it would stop developing and selling Firefox OS smartphones. It will continue to experiment on how it might work on other connected devices and Internet of Things networks.
Firefox OS first debuted back in 2013, with Mozilla hoping that the open, HTML5-based operating system could end Google and Apple’s dominance of the smartphone market.
The announcement was made earlier today at Mozilla’s developer event in Orlando, “Mozlando“, and several people were tweeting the basics of the news. Now Mozilla has provided us with a full statement from Ari Jaaksi, Mozilla’s SVP of Connected Devices.
“We are proud of the benefits Firefox OS added to the Web platform and will continue to experiment with the user experience across connected devices. We will build everything we do as a genuine open source project, focused on user experience first and build tools to enable the ecosystem to grow.
Firefox OS proved the flexibility of the Web, scaling from low-end smartphones all the way up to HD TVs. However, we weren’t able to offer the best user experience possible and so we will stop offering Firefox OS smartphones through carrier channels.
We’ll share more on our work and new experiments across connected devices soon.”
Firefox OS was first unveiled in 2013, with the aim of targeting the developing world and late adopters with low-cost handsets.
To differentiate from Android and iOS, Mozilla and its carrier partners focused on a web-first platform, with no native and only web apps. Sales, however, were always poor and the devices themselves failed to ignite a lot of consumer interest, and a number of OEMs cornered the market with a flood of cheap handsets. In a business that depends on economies of scale, it was a failure.
While low-cost Firefox OS handsets enjoyed some popularity in developing countries thanks to their aggressive pricing, Mozilla this week has admitted defeat, announcing that it will no longer be developing Firefox OS for smartphones.
“We’ll share more on our work and new experiments across connected devices soon.”
This doesn’t mean it’s the end for Firefox OS, though. Although Mozilla is no longer pouring resources into its now-defunct smartphone experiment, users likely will be able to manually flash the software onto compatible devices, and may still be able to be pick up Firefox OS devices.
What’s more, Mozilla has said that while it’s giving up on smartphones, it’s exploring the idea of bringing the software to the Internet of Things (IoT).
The firm already has some experience in the field. Last year, Mozilla announced a flashable version of Mozilla OS (PiFxOS) for the Raspberry Pi.