Mozilla another victim of the MobileOS duopoly

Despite noble intentions, FirefoxOS never stood a chance

Fresh from recently announcing it wants to offload its Thunderbird email and chat client, Mozilla is ceasing development and sales for Firefox mobile OS.

”We are proud of the benefits Firefox OS added to the Web platform and will continue to experiment with the user experience across connected devices. We will build everything we do as a genuine open source project, focused on user experience first and build tools to enable the ecosystem to grow,” the company said a statement to various media outlets.

”Firefox OS proved the flexibility of the Web, scaling from low-end smartphones all the way up to HD TVs. However, we weren’t able to offer the best user experience possible and so we will stop offering Firefox OS smartphones through carrier channels.”

Launched in early 2013, Firefox OS was meant to offer an open, HMTL5 web application-based alternative to Android, and was rolled out via low-cost devices to various markets in Europe and Latin America. However poorly received devices and low uptake meant the OS never gained any significant traction and barely registered anything close to even 1% of market share.

Breaking the duopoly

Android and iOS command over 90% of the mobileOS market. As noble as their efforts were to break the hegemony of Apple and Google, Mozilla never stood a chance. And they’re not the only ones.

Jolla, makers of SailfishOS – another open source offering birthed from Nokia’s MeeGO – first announced it was turning away from hardware to focused on software licensing, then later announced it was laying-off large numbers of staff and undergoing debt restructuring.

And no-one expects this to change anytime soon. IDC says Microsoft, currently the third placed mobileOS provider, will only extend its share by a measly 0.1% over the next four years, to 2.3%. The once mighty BlackBerry has fallen into almost nothing and Tizen - Samsung’s ill-fated attempt to reduce reliance on Google and Android – never took off. If the big boys with all their billions can’t muscle in on the top two, what chance do the little guys have?

Much likes Tizen, FirefoxOS won’t be left to rot but instead pivot focus on the Internet of Things. Perhaps there’ll be a beautiful resurrection story in the future, even if the IoT-OS market is already over-crowded and features offerings from the big guns such as Google, Microsoft, Huawei and more…