Unsurmountable DRM Problems Lead Matchstick To Cancel Firefox-Based Streaming Dongle

I was really looking forward to Matchstick, the first HDMI streaming dongle based on Mozilla's open source Firefox OS. Unfortunately, its developers are putting the word out that they're cancelling the successfully funded Kickstarter project due to difficulties with digital rights management (DRM). On the bright side, if you can call it that, the Matchstick team promised to refund 100 percent of all pledges.

Matchstick raised over $470,000 from more than 17,000 backers on Kickstarter. The developers set a goal of $100,000, and with the extra support, they committed to adding Local Play and Ad Hoc mode, two of the most requested features. Local Play would have allowed Matchstick owners to play local content from their own local media servers sitting on the same network as the streaming stick (like a NAS box), while Ad Hoc would have allowed for playback of local content without a connection to the cloud.


That is, before DRM ruined the fun.

"After struggling with the DRM development based on Firefox OS for most of this year, we realize continued development of DRM, though showing early signs of promise, will be a long and difficult road," the Matchstick team said. "We have come to the conclusion that we will not be able to reliably predict the completion date of the DRM development without significantly more research, development and integration."

Matchstick was originally supposed to ship in February with a retail cost of $25, compared to Chromecast's $35 MSRP. However, it was delayed due to Wi-Fi issues and challenges related to DRM integration, the latter of which became the "primary focus" of its developers.

Matchstick Stickers
Matchstick was active on social media and often sent out goodies to backers (like the stickers and jacket shown above)

The decision to implement DRM wasn't necessarily a popular one with backers who pledged support for an open device, even less so now that it's been cancelled. Be that as it may, Matchstick made the decision bake DRM support into the device so that it could play nice with popular services that require it, like Netflix.

Not surprisingly, many of the comments in reaction to the project's cancellation on Kickstarter are calling for the developers to proceed with shipping Matchstick sans DRM, as that's what they backed in the first place.