A streaming media dongle to take on Google’s Chromecast but running Mozilla’s Firefox OS has been caught in the wild, taking what so far has been focused on smartphone form-factors into the living room instead. The market for streaming hardware has flourished over the past twelve months, with Google helping drive down prices with its $35 Chromecast, while Amazon challenged Apple TV with its voice-navigated Fire TV.
Details on this Firefox OS stick are scant, though according to GigaOm’s sources it’s intended to be a low-cost gadget rather than a premium one. Signs of the stick were first spotted earlier this week, when Mozilla evangelist Christian Heilmann tweeted the above picture of a prototype version.
According to Heilmann, the dongle is set to hit the market “soon”, describing it as “a fully open TV casting prototype” that has an open boot-loader.
GigaOm managed to sweet-talk some brief hands-on time with it, finding that not only is it being positioned as a more open alternative to Chromecast, but it will actually run some of the Chromecast apps.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen Firefox involved in media shifting, however. Back in September, trials of an early screen-sharing system were revealed, though Mozilla was quick to describe the second-screen functionality as simply an experiment.
Still, if the Firefox OS powered dongle can tap into Chromecast-style enthusiasm among developers, its open nature could see it edge ahead if the price is right. While Google has an SDK for Chromecast, there are still limits about the types of apps they can produce for the gadget.
In contrast, the Firefox OS device will have no such limitations.
Update: A Mozilla spokesperson has given us the following statement:
“This not a Mozilla project and we do not make devices. Firefox OS is an open platform freely available for any company to build on without restrictions. This means companies can experiment with different form factors that run Firefox OS.”