Mozilla has laid off a team that was working on Firefox OS, effectively marking the end of the company’s attempts to build a commercial platform for connected devices.
The non-profit organisation, primarily known for its Firefox web browser, announced on Thursday that about 50 people were to be let go from the company. This follows announcements that Ari Jaaski, the senior vice president in charge of Firefox OS, and Bertrand Neveux, director of the group’s software, are leaving.
Mozilla made the following statement to the gadget group confirming the job cuts:
"We have shifted our internal approach to the internet-of-things opportunity," Mozilla said in a statement, "to step back from a focus on launching and scaling commercial products to one focused on research and advanced development, dissolving our connected devices initiative and incorporating our internet-of-things explorations into an increased focus on emerging technologies."
Firefox OS was the company’s attempt to bring itself back into mainstream consciousness. At one point, Mozilla’s web browser was ubiquitous with web browsing as a major alternative to the staid experience of Internet Explorer, but it has struggled in the past few years with the rise of mobile web browsing. According to web analytics firm StatCounter, Firefox’s usage share in January dropped to 14.9 per cent on personal computers and 6.8 per cent on all devices, with more users gravitating towards Safari and Chrome.
In spite of its efforts, Firefox OS never really took off. It was included in a handful of budget smartphones, before being repositioned for Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices. Its biggest success was seeing inclusion in a high-profile Panasonic 4K TV, but the device apparently didn’t make much of an impact.