Firefox OS is an operating system built around the same technologies used in the Firefox web browser. Mozilla introduced the software a few years ago as an alternative to Android and iOS that would be based on open source software, available for low-cost phones, easy to develop for, and easy for phone makers and wireless carriers to customize.
So far Firefox OS hasn’t been a huge hit in the smartphone space. A relatively small number of handsets have been released, and they have to compete with hundreds of cheap Android phones that are already on the market.
Now Mozilla has announced that it will no longer offer Firefox OS smartphones through carriers… although that doesn’t mean the operating system is dead.
The organization is leaving open the door for using Firefox OS for Internet of Things products and other smart connected hardware.
Panasonic, for example, has already started using Firefox OS to power its smart TVs. Maybe one day we’ll see the software in other smart home products such as thermostats, security systems, or robotic vacuum cleaners.
Mozilla, meanwhile, continues to develop solutions for smartphones. The company’s Firefox web browser for Android offers many of the features that were baked into Firefox OS. And now there’s also a version of Firefox for iOS, although it relies on a different rendering engine than all other versions of Mozilla’s web browser.
Today Mozilla also launched a new content blocker for iOS devices called Focus by Firefox, which allows users to block certain ads, analytics, and other web scripts that track personal data.
If you want to run Firefox OS on phones, you may be able to continue doing that too… in a statement to TechCrunch, Mozilla says “able to offer the best user experience possible and so we will stop offering Firefox OS smartphones through carrier channels,” which suggests you may still be able to buy some phones that come with the software pre-loaded, and you may be able to install it on some phones yourself. But it doesn’t look like Mozilla plans to put a lot of effort into challenging Android or iOS in the commercial phone space anymore.