The Mozilla Foundation has admitted defeat for its Connected Devices initiative, ending its ambition to create an operating system (OS) for the IoT.
In a statement, the Foundation said: “IoT is clearly an emerging technology space, but it’s still early. We have shifted our internal approach to the IoT opportunity 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 IoT explorations into an increased focus on Emerging Technologies.”
According to CNET, this also means the end of 50 jobs at the non-profit organization, including Ari Jaaksi, the senior vice president in charge of the Connected Devices team.
Related: South African team brew up Guinnux IoT operating system
Mozilla Firefox OS
Mozilla’s push into the Internet of Things space was led by the development of its Firefox OS.
The Foundation had hoped this operating system would provide a popular alternative to Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone iOS on mobile, but the project struggled to take off and was killed in July last year.
Instead, Mozilla shifted its focus towards using Firefox OS “perhaps as a platform for explorations in the world of connected devices, and perhaps for continued evolution of Firefox OS TV”, but its TV project was buried four months ago, and it seems the IoT project is now also dead.
Related: Why the IoT needs ‘open & exposed’ devices
An attempt to “save face”?
Internet of Business asked Quocirca analyst, Clive Longbottom, what this move means for the company.
“Firefox OS was pretty much dead anyway,” Longbottom said. “It had failed at a Chromebook-competitor level, failed as a phone OS, failed as a TV OS, leaving it with little else to go for.
“Trying to shoehorn it into the IoT sector as a specialized OS didn’t stand much chance either, as the need for scalability through from such devices up through gateways to servers and so on means that an Android/Linux, Microsoft Windows or other scalable platform was always going to attract more attention.”
“So – to focus on the IoT, Mozilla is getting rid of its IoT group. To focus on emerging technologies, it has got rid of the group that had been focusing on the IoT, the biggest emerging technology of the moment.
“Overall, [this] sounds like a PR attempt to save face – Mozilla got it wrong; cannot figure out where to go with the work it has already done; and has regrouped to focus on what it has been doing all the time.”
Related: Google Targets IoT Software – And Maybe More – With New Open-Source Operating System
Still focused on IoT, still hiring
Nevertheless, Mozilla insists “We are working with all Mozillians affected to help them transfer to new roles as part of this continued IoT exploration or other roles at Mozilla. If there is not a role for an individual affected, we are providing severance, extended benefits and outplacement services.”
The foundation said it will continue to explore IoT through Project Vaani – which aims to build a voice interface technology similar to Amazon’s Alexa – and other projects within the emerging devices team.
And it’s not all bad news for Mozilla, the foundation reported revenue of $421 million last year due to partnerships with Yahoo, Yandex and Baidu, which it will use to campaign against threats to the open internet.