In early December, Mozilla pretty much confirmed that the end was near for Firefox OS on smartphones. “Firefox OS proved the flexibility of the Web, scaling from low-end smartphones all the way up to HD TVs,” said Mozilla SVP of Connected Devices Ari Jaaksi at the time. “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 week, Mozilla solidified those plans to axe Firefox OS for smartphones by announcing that support will be yanked in the coming months. “We are announcing our plan to end-of-life support for smartphones after the Firefox OS 2.6 release,” said Mozilla’s George Roter. “This means that Firefox OS for smartphones will no longer have staff involvement beyond May.”
“Through the work of hundreds of contributors we made an awesome push and created an impressive platform in Firefox OS,” Roter added. “However, the circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up, and the conditions were not there for Mozilla to win on commercial smartphones.”
It’s incredibly hard for a new player in the smartphone OS market to go head-to-head with the two dominant players: Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Mozilla lacked the resources and a suitable app delivery model to appease general consumers (Firefox OS is a web-only platform). We have even seen seasoned player in the smartphone OS — namely Microsoft and BlackBerry — collapse to nearly non-existent global market share in recent years, so Mozilla was already facing an uphill battle. In the case of BlackBerry, it saw the writing on the wall and jumped ship to Android.
It was also announced that the Marketplace — which is home to apps designed for Firefox on Android, desktop and tablets, in addition to Firefox OS — will stop accepting submissions for apps that don’t support Firefox OS. The Marketplace, however, will continue to accept Firefox OS apps into 2017.