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Mozilla Announces Focus on Connected Devices

by James Chesters on Feb 10, 2016 |

Mozilla has this week revealed more details regarding its pivot from Firefox OS to “connected devices” -- to some concern from the community.

In the post Firefox OS/Connected Devices Announcement, George Roter, leader of the Mozilla Participation Lab, said the company was focusing on "exploring new product innovations in the IoT space."

Roter says Mozilla will end development on Firefox OS for smartphones after the version 2.6 release, and that from March 29, 2016, the Marketplace will no longer accept submissions for Android, Desktop and Tablet, and will remove all apps that don’t support Firefox OS.

Testing as part of a new product innovation process is already underway, and Mozilla's connected devices team have begun the very early stages of validation for several projects. Among the innovations are SmartTV, MozVR (virtual reality on the open web), and FlyWeb, an idea to have phones discover and interact with electronics around them.

Roter says Mozilla's global dogfooding program (known as "Foxfooding") will continue, with a focus on new innovations instead of on Firefox OS. While some questioned why it should, others were more optimistic saying "If Firefox OS 2.6 is great, there will more chances to continue working on that, outside or inside Mozilla."

Dissent from some members of the Firefox community was vocal. Mozilla rep Szmozsánszky István commented

Sunsetting Firefox OS is one thing — but killing off a community effort that finally had potential by removing every single person on staff supporting it is utterly sad and disappointing (although not at all surprising, as it has happened before, with the Tablet Contribution Program)

New user Sergio Cero agreed with Szmozsánszky István, saying

It's very disappointing and SUSPICIOUS this ABSOLUTE CLOSING of resources for a project which is more mature than ever. I can imagine who would be happy to see FXOS disappear.

If Mozilla weren't being pressed for this they would REDUCE the dedicated resources, leaving a minimum of people/resources dedicated to continue the project, but the above clearly denotes a paradoxically hopeful sadness. I really feel now someone USED me.

Replying to Szmozsánszky István, Mozilla contributor Asa Dotzler explained

A community effort is not exactly being killed. B2G is an open source project. There are still people working on it and I hope people will continue. If enough people are interested in keeping it going, and have the skills to do so, we can do that.

The Tablet Contribution Program was not Mozilla pulling resources. That was an example of the partner pulling out and leaving us with no upgrade path. I know this is frustrating, and especially so for those of us who went through the tablet program/mess. We're going to work through this over the next few months, and we should emerge a more open and participatory project than we've been before with Firefox OS.

Dotzler also reminded the community that by moving SeaMonkey out of core Mozilla to an all-volunteer project the team had been instead able to focus on Firefox, their first "big success."

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