Mozilla just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to bringing Firefox outside of the confines of a traditional web browser. After killing its plans for a Firefox OS smartphone, it shifted its eyes towards the more nascent Internet of Things market. Now it is also giving up on that IoT thrust as well. The nonprofit organization has just told its workforce that it will be scrapping its IoT team, laying off as much as 50 people in the process.
Some might say that Mozilla is better off just focusing on its browser, especially since some have considered Firefox to be trailing behind Google in that space. Mozilla’s excursion into other devices, however, is both exactly to address that deficiency as well as push web technology forward.
Being a nonprofit, Mozilla’s motives are less driven by profits and more by research and development. And that actually puts it in an awkward situation with regards to its IoT efforts. Unlike with traditional web browsers, Firefox OS on TVs, routers, tablets, and smartphones require hardware partnerships and commercial relationships, tying Mozilla’s hands in some ways and making it beholden to the whims of the market, its consumers, and its manufacturers.
That is, perhaps, the reason why Mozilla is scrapping those plans. Or at least that’s the official statement. Mozilla says it has reconsidered its approach to IoT and is stepping back from a focus on commercial products and is, instead, realigning its efforts with R&D instead. Of course, it probably didn’t help that there hasn’t been much commercial interest in putting Firefox in places other than a browser.