Mozilla to kill Firefox smartphone operating system

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Firefox smartphone operating system is being shut down, three years after a launch aimed at challenging the dominant platforms powered by Apple and Google, developers said on Thursday.

The operating system created by the Mozilla developer community as an open-source system failed to gain traction in mobile devices, according to a statement from Mozilla developer George Roter.

"Through the work of hundreds of contributors we made an awesome push and created an impressive platform in Firefox OS," he said in a blog post.

"However, as we announced in December, the circumstances of multiple established operating systems and app ecosystems meant that we were playing catch-up, and the conditions were not there for Mozilla to win on commercial smartphones."

Roter said Mozilla has set "our plan to end-of-life support for smartphones after the Firefox OS 2.6 release" which means that "Firefox OS for smartphones will no longer have staff involvement beyond May."

In 2013, Mozilla announced a tie-up with Spanish-based GeeksPhone to introduce two low-cost devices powered by Firefox.

Firefox devices made by China's ZTE and TCL were announced in 2014 at a cost as low as US$25 (S$35).

Roter said Mozilla made the decision as part of a push "to pivot from 'Firefox OS' to 'connected devices'" and would be focusing on developing open-source software for the Internet of Things - a category which includes everything from connected cars to lightbulbs.

"As of today, we have three projects that have passed the first gate including (a) smart TV and about a dozen more projects are prepping for review," he said.