Mobility

Mozilla Shifts Firefox OS Focus To Internet Of Things

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Mozilla sees a future for Firefox OS in the wider world of connected devices following the cancellation of its smartphone carrier plans

The Mozilla Foundation has said it plans to refocus its Firefox OS on the world of connected devices, known as the “Internet of Things”, in the wake of its decision to stop selling Firefox OS-powered smartphones through telecommunications carriers.

Ari Jaaksi, senior vice president of connected devices at Mozilla, Jaaksi said Mozilla now plans to focus more actively on the Internet of Things.

Internet of Things

Firefox OS Logo
“We will prototype this future starting right now using technologies developed as part of the Firefox OS project to give us a kick start,” he said in a blog post. “We will focus on products and technologies that allow people to access and manage their world of connected devices, helping to ensure people are empowered, safe and independent.”

Firefox OS powers a range of Panasonic Life+Screen 4K televisions released this spring, and Mozilla said it encourages enthusiasts to continue installing the OS it on their own devices.

Firefox OS relies entirely on open source and web technologies, having no native apps.

Mozilla had built up partnerships with a wide range of telecommunications providers and released Firefox OS-powered smartphones in countries including Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, India, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.

Web-powered smartphones

Telecoms companies including Telefonica, Orange, Telenor, Deutsche Telekom, China Unicom and Verizon saw Firefox OS as a way to offer smartphones on low-end devices without having to turn to Google’s Android. Manufacturing partners for the devices rolled out starting in February 2013 included Alcatel, LG and ZTE.

But Mozilla struggled to compete against better-established rivals, including mobile operating systems from Microsoft, Samsung, Canonical and BlackBerry, as well as Android, which as of the second quarter of this year powered 83 percent of smartphones worldwide, according to IDC.

A start-up called Acadine Technologies, run by former Mozilla president Li Gong, said it plans to aim its Firefox OS-based H5OS operating system at the smartphone market abandoned by Mozilla.

The company has more than 120 full-time employees, including engineers hired from Mozilla, and counts Andreas Gal, co-founder of Firefox OS, as an advisor. It has $100 million in funding from Hong Kong-based Tsinghua Unigroup International and is seeking a second funding round from international investors.

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