Since spring 2015, all of Panasonic’s TVs have been powered by Firefox OS that provides access to Netflix, YouTube and other services via apps. But this is the end. Mozilla has stopped all commercial development of Firefox OS, including for TVs.
Firefox OS is dead
The writing was on the wall and in our review of Panasonic DX900 we called Firefox OS a dead end. Not because it is a bad TV platform – on the contrary it is very user-friendly – but because it had almost no support from the developer community. Today, operating systems rise and fall with developers’ support.
And now it is official: Firefox OS is dead.
- ”In the spring and summer of 2016 the Connected Devices team dug deeper into opportunities for Firefox OS. They concluded that Firefox OS TV was a project to be run by our commercial partner and not a project to be led by Mozilla,” Mozilla wrote in a blog post.
What now Panasonic?
The only TV manufacturer to use Firefox OS is Panasonic. The Japanese company now has two options:
Starting from 2017, Panasonic could team up with a new partner, for example Google’s Android TV.
Panasonic could continue work on Firefox OS, under a new name, in-house. Mozilla will release the code as open source.
FlatpanelsHD has contacted Panasonic to ask them about the future but has not received a reply. While option 2 cannot be excluded, one has to remember that Panasonic chose Mozilla as a partner after having trying and failed to develop an in-house TV platform.
Firefox OS was developed by Mozilla, which is best known for the Firefox web browser. Work started in 2012 and the company had grand plans for Firefox OS, which is based on a web browser core, for the mobile space. Those plans were abandoned in late 2015 but Mozilla assured everyone that it would continue development on Firefox OS for TVs. Now, about half a year later, the company has also pulled the power cord on TVs. The code will be releases as open source.
Version 2.6 to be the last
Earlier this month, Panasonic told FlatpanelsHD that a new version 2.6 of Firefox OS is still planned. Mozilla confirms that version 2.6 will be the last release. However, with the two main new features being "web apps" and "mobile-to-TV" (a Chromecast-like feature) it seems largely irrelevant. Neither of these two features can evolve without developer support.
- “We realize that these decisions are painful for those of us who had high hopes and dreams and work tied up in Firefox OS,” said Ari Jaaksi and David Bryant from Mozilla.
Goodbye Firefox OS. We hardly knew ya’.
Update 30-9-2016: We have received the following official statement from Panasonic:
Opdatering 30.9.2016 kl. 12.49: Vi har modtaget følgende officielle udmelding fra Panasonic:
"In order to deliver the very best Smart TV experience to our consumers, Panasonic has for the past few years combined our proprietary technology with open source technology. To this end from 2015 we have shipped Firefox OS in our TVs in order to give our users a simpler, easily usable User Interface.
It is our intention to continue to build on this platform by integrating the assets we have developed including Firefox OS and adopting evolving open source technologies. By this we develop a superior, next generation Panasonic Smart TV.
There is no change for customers who already have a Panasonic Smart TV powered by Firefox, who can continue to enjoy a great Smart TV experience"