Mozilla is shutting down its “connected devices” group, which was responsible for the failed smartphone operating system Firefox OS and, more recently, attempts to build the OS into devices like routers, streaming boxes, and even basic computers.
CNET first reported the news, saying that “about 50 people” are being laid off from the company. Ari Jaaksi, who’s been in charge of Mozilla’s connected devices unit for a little over two years, is also said to be leaving.
Mozilla confirmed that it was cutting positions in a statement to The Verge. The company said it would shift its focus to researching new technologies for connected devices and “step back from a focus on launching and scaling commercial products.”
To some extent, this dissolution of Mozilla’s connected devices group feels like it’s been a long time coming. Mozilla has had no luck when it comes to mobile, and it hasn’t been clear what benefits Firefox could bring to routers and other connected devices that existing platforms couldn’t offer.
With Mozilla being controlled by a nonprofit, its ability to offer a strong alternate platform could have had a meaningful impact on how major players in the connected devices space decide to deal with privacy.
But Mozilla’s initiative to get Firefox inside of connected devices never really got off the ground. It gave up on putting Firefox OS into phones back in late 2015, and began shifting over to “exploring the IoT market” last year — making some layoffs in the process. Whatever came of that effort never made it to the public.
For its part, Mozilla still believes it could find a role in the growing ecosystem of connected devices. “IoT is clearly an emerging technology space,” the company says, “but it's still early.”