Back in 2002, Mozilla launched its Phoenix web browser, which the company later renamed Firefox. A decade later, Mozilla announced its plan to get into the smartphone platform game with Firefox OS. A year after that, ZTE shipped the first Firefox OS phone, the Open. Now, Mozilla says it's halting the development and sale of Firefox OS smartphones. The company says in a blog post that, like the Phoenix of Greek mythology, Firefox OS will rise from the ashes for a new life among the Internet of Things.
Mozilla's senior VP of connected devices, Ari Jaaski, writes that the company believes the coming IoT "revolution" will "be bigger than previous technology revolutions," including smartphones. Jaaski says Mozilla chose to end the smartphone dream so it could instead prototype other connected devices. Firefox OS will give Mozilla a "kick start" on this work.
Jaaski provided the following statement to TechCrunch regarding the reason for the shift away from phone hardware:
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.
This isn't Mozilla's first foray into connected devices. Late last year, Mozilla unveiled the Matchstick, a $25 Chromecast competitor. That project got canceled, though, and Mozilla announced in August that it would refund the dongle's backers. The company is excited for the connected future, though. In his post, Jaaski writes, "We believe that the Web can be the right platform for this future of connected devices and we can’t wait to share more with everyone soon."
Update, 12/10/2015 11:40 AM: Our initial post stated that Mozilla was halting Firefox OS development for phones. It has been brought to our attention that this is not the case, and that Mozilla is in fact halting development and sales of Firefox OS phone hardware only. We've corrected the post accordingly, and we regret our error.