Mozilla Ending Support of Firefox OS for Its Doomed Smartphones

Development of the smartphone OS will end with Version 2.6, and staff support for the devices will end in May, according to the company.

Mozilla, Firefox OS, Firefox OS phones, smartphones, Firefox OS Version 2.6

Mozilla's Firefox OS smartphone software project is being shut down in the next few months as the company continues to wrap up the remaining parts of its failed Firefox smartphone line.

Ari Jaaksi, the company's senior vice president of connected devices, announced that Version 2.6 of Firefox OS for smartphones will be the last version to be built and that plans for its eventual end are being formulated, he wrote in a Feb. 4 post on The Mozilla Blog. "This planning also includes end-of-life for Firefox Marketplace across various platforms: smartphones, Firefox desktop and Firefox for Android," he wrote.

Mozilla ended its smartphone line after it "could not create a compelling and differentiating end-user value proposition," Jaaksi wrote. "Our team and community made an awesome push and created an impressive platform, but the circumstances were not there for Mozilla to win in the commercial smartphone game."

The Firefox OS won't disappear completely, he wrote, since it will be used for smart TVs and potentially other devices in the future, including Panasonic's Smart TV line of products.

A related Feb. 4 post on the Mozilla Community Webpage said that as part of the decision to end support after Version 2.6 on smartphones, Mozilla will also end staff help to users for the OS beyond May 2016.

"Obviously, these decisions are substantial and we know there will be many questions," the post continued. "Let us end this section with a massive and heartfelt thank you to all of you who poured your hearts into Firefox OS for smartphones. We added more than 30 Web APIs and proved the Web is flexible enough to support products from smartphones to TVs."

Mozilla announced the demise of its low-priced Firefox OS smartphone line in December after two years of trying unsuccessfully to compete with other mobile phones on the market, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

The Firefox OS effort first began in 2011 under the name Boot to Gecko (B2G) and was rebranded Firefox OS in July 2012, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Gecko is the name of the core rendering engine that powers Firefox, and the idea of B2G was to have a thin Linux base tightly integrated with Firefox as the foundation of a new operating system.

In January 2014 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Mozilla unveiled its then-new strategy of bringing its open-source browser-based Firefox OS to TVs, tablets and even desktop PCs.

In July 2013, the first Firefox OS smartphones, the Alcatel One Touch Fire and the ZTE Open (pictured), began to enter the market.

The Firefox OS system had the look of an Android operating system on the phones, with a home page full of app icons. Facebook and Twitter were preloaded. Also included was an adaptive app search system that let a user search based on intentions, rather than proper nouns. If you put in "sushi, "for example, you wouldn't just get apps with the word "sushi" in them but information on local sushi restaurants and maybe information on how to make sushi. A search for a band would turn up not just albums but information on buying concert tickets.