Today we shared a number of decisions around Firefox OS along with changes to Marketplace, foxfooding, and the Product Innovation Process. Below is the full email that was sent out.
Obviously, these decisions are substantial and we knlow there will be many questions. Mozilla staff will be monitoring this channel closely over the next 48 hours to answer your questions and concerns as quickly as possible.
The purpose of this email is to share a follow up to what was announced by Ari Jaaksi, Mozilla’s SVP of Connected Devices, in early December – an intent to pivot from “Firefox OS” to “Connected Devices” and to a focus on exploring new product innovations in the IoT space. We’re sharing this on behalf of Ari and the Connected Devices leadership group.
In particular, there are a few decisions that we want to share along with what will happen next. We’ll elaborate more below, but let us start by being very clear and direct about 4 decisions that have been made:
- We will end development on Firefox OS for smartphones after the version 2.6 release.
- As of March 29, 2016, Marketplace will no longer accept submissions for Android, Desktop and Tablet, we will remove all apps that don’t support Firefox OS. Firefox OS apps will continue to be accepted into 2017 (we have yet to finalize a date for when we won’t continue accepting these apps).
- The Connected Devices team has been testing out a new product innovation process with staff, 3 products have passed the first “gate” and many more are in the pipeline. Having multiple different product innovations in development will be the approach moving forward, and we’re hoping to open up the formal process to non-staff participation in the first half of the year.
- The foxfooding program will continue and will focus on these new product innovations (rather than improving the smartphone experience). We expect the Sony Z3C foxfooding devices to be useful in this, but we expect it to take until the end of March to figure out the specific design of this program.
Obviously, these decisions are substantial. The main reason they are being made is to ensure we are focusing our energies and resources on bringing the power of the web to IoT. And let’s remember why we’re doing this: we’re entering this exciting, fragmented space to ensure users have choice through interoperable, open solutions, and for us to act as their advocates for data privacy and security.
There are some exciting opportunities for you to shape this next phase through your participation – we’ve started to outline some of these below and will send more details in the days ahead.
Even after reading more below, you may have questions to ask and thoughts to share. For that reason we’re opening up a conversation here on Discourse and will have open office hours over the coming days. Please reach out.
And now more details…
We will end development on Firefox OS for smartphones after the version 2.6 release
Through the work of hundreds of contributors we made an awesome push and created an impressive platform in Firefox OS. 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. We have decided that in order to succeed in the new area of Connected Devices we must focus our energy completely on prototyping the future and exploring how we can make the biggest impact in IoT.
Therefore we are announcing our plan to end-of-life support for smartphones after the Firefox OS 2.6 release. This means that Firefox OS for smartphones will no longer have staff involvement beyond May.
We will continue to assess the stack to determine fit with new projects coming through the innovation process (outlined below). Of course, Boot to Gecko (b2g) always has been and will continue to be an open source operating system open to contribution.
Let us end this section with a massive and heartfelt thank you to all of you who poured your hearts into Firefox OS for smartphones. We added more than 30 WebAPIs and proved the Web is flexible enough to support products from smartphones to TVs. We learned a tremendous amount about how to partner with other organizations and develop products with our values in a hyper-competitive market. And it also stands as a great starting point to proceed to the next phase of Connected Devices.
Changes to Marketplace
As of March 29, 2016, Marketplace will no longer accept submissions for Android, Desktop and Tablet, and will remove all apps that don’t support Firefox OS. We will continue accepting Firefox OS apps into 2017 (we have yet to finalize a date for when we won’t continue accepting these apps). Apps that currently work on Desktop and Android will no longer function on those platforms since the Web Runtime (WebRT) will be removed and will no longer be able to install or launch apps. We will continue to allow submissions and updates for free Firefox OS phone apps, and there are millions of existing users that we will continue to support. For more information about the future of Marketplace visit the wiki here.
Product Innovation Process
For the past month, the Connected Devices team has been testing out a new product innovation process with staff to identify our 2016 IoT product programs.
This process pushes us to think about early-stage ideas as if they were tech-startup projects where teams advocating for them are required to demonstrate a clear consumer value proposition at all points (“gates”) in the development cycle. This will be the team’s approach moving forward.
As of today, we have 3 projects that have passed the first gate including SmartTV, and about a dozen more projects are prepping for review. You can learn more about the product innovation process here.
We’re hoping to open up this formal innovation process to non-staff participation in the first half of the year. The tricky part of this is how to navigate volunteer involvement in the inevitable reality of projects that don’t pass gates in the development cycle being wound-down quickly. If you are interested in helping design this kind of open innovation process for volunteer participation please get in touch.
The foxfooding program will continue and will focus on these new product innovations
Our push into the Connected Devices space will absolutely necessitate strong community support for our initiatives to be successful – and that means hacking on and testing new product innovations coming through the pipeline.
That means the foxfooding program will actually expand to engage community members early and often with new product concepts. We expect the Sony Z3C foxfooding devices in the existing program to be useful in this (since they are already packed with various sensors that may be used in the IoT space). We expect it to take until the end of March to figure out the specific design of this program.
**Start Building the Future right now! **
The possibilities, freedom and potential of the connected devices space make it particularly exciting. We want to empower as many people as possible to get involved! A full participation program is in the design phase and will be rolled out in the months ahead.
In the meantime, a volunteer-driven and lightweight Innovation Fund is being initiated by the Mozilla Reps Council. This fund is an experiment itself for the next 3 months, and will provide a lightweight and streamlined process to fund small projects that aim to experiment and prototype innovative ideas in the connected devices space. You can read more about this here.
The entire Connected Devices leadership is overwhelmed with appreciation for what we’ve built and accomplished working together – a deep, heartfelt thank you again. And we’re tremendously excited about what we will create together in the future.
Please share all of your questions and concerns with us on Discourse where we will be regularly responding, and answering questions. You can also share your questions with John, George, Lucy or Brian directly by email.
John Bernard. Director, Collaboration, Connected Devices
George Roter. Head of Core Contributors, Participation