Mozilla revealed today that it will shutter its ambitious Firefox OS smartphone initiative, during an announcement at its Mozlando developer event in Orlando, Florida. The web standards-compliant platform, designed to enable OEMs to manufacture cheap handsets for developing markets, never picked up steam in an Android-saturated marketplace.
First introduced to the development community in July 2011 and publicly released in February 2013, the platform managed to attract several major manufacturers to participate — including LG, ZTE, Alcatel, and Huawei — but never generated the sort of app ecosystem nor fanbase that would have made their continued investment worthwhile. All told, Firefox OS will have powered less than two dozen commercial handsets (while also having been ported to a number of others) along with a handful of tablets, small computers, and a television set.
According to a statement released to TechCrunch, Mozilla will now look to leverage its open source platform in the realm of connected devices. “Firefox OS proved the flexibility of the Web, scaling from low-end smartphones all the way up to HD TVs,” a Mozilla spokesperson said. “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 have asked Mozilla for more details regarding the future of Firefox OS, which made an appearance not just on smartphones, but on tablets and smart TVs as well. The company simply isn’t ready to share yet what will happen to Firefox OS outside of smartphones sold through carrier channels. We suspect the project will live on in some form, though it’s not clear how frequently it will be updated.
Originally created within Netscape as an open source version of its web browser software, Mozilla was eventually spun off under the auspices of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation. The browser, Firefox, was once the most popular non-bundled client for accessing the World Wide Web, before being unseated by Google Chrome in late 2011.