Mozilla Announces An End To Its Firefox OS Smartphone Experiment

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Last week, Mozilla announced an end to its Firefox OS, its mobile operating system, and that it would stop developing and selling Firefox OS smartphones.

The announcement was made at “Mozlando“, Mozilla’s developer event in Orlando. According to Ari Jaaksi, Mozilla’s SVP of Connected Devices, Firefox OS was shutting down, but Mozilla would continue to experiment on connected devices and the Internet of Things.

“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 a web-first platform, with users having the option to run applications on the web or to install from an application marketplace. It was an open-source platform, using open standards and approaches such as JavaScript and HTML5. It was first unveiled in 2013, with low-cost handsets targeting the developing world.

Mozilla partnered with a number of African carriers, such as Orange in Kenya and MTN in South Africa, with whom they launched the Klif and the Alcatel OneTouch Fire E in mid-2015.

Sales failed to pick up, however, and the devices were largely panned by consumers. The devices faced stiff competition from cheap handsets running Android clones, and their basic features meant that they did not appeal to higher-end users.

The Mozilla is aiming to focus more on its strongest and core products and reputation. The company unveiled Focus, a new ad blocker for iOS, building on its existing approach to privacy and stance on user tracking and cookies.

As for the future of Firefox OS, it was reported that Acadine Technologies, a startup founded by former Mozilla Corporation president Li Gong, would take over the mission of developing carrier partnerships for H5OS, Firefox OS derivative, which is primarily based on HTML5.

“We are definitely working with a good number of partners who desire a non-Android OS to power their mobile devices,” Gong told CNET. He declined to detail discussions but said, “We are now the frontrunner in terms of choice in this space.”