Mozilla axes IoT project, cuts staff, backs off from commercial stuff

Despite the layoffs, Mozilla insists it will be increasing its headcount

Mozilla is ending its Connected Devices initiative, the flailing software maker's effort to influence the design and development of networkable things.

"IoT is clearly an emerging technology space, but it's still early," a company spokesperson told The Register in an emailed statement. "We have shifted our internal approach to the IoT opportunity to step back from a focus on launching and scaling commercial products to one focused on research and advanced development, dissolving our Connected Devices initiative and incorporating our IoT explorations into an increased focus on Emerging Technologies."

In so doing, Mozilla plans to lay off about 50 people, we've heard.

Mozilla's spokesperson declined to cite a specific number of people affected while insisting that the company plans to increase its headcount and investments in areas like IoT, VR, AR, and decentralized web technology.

"However there will be role eliminations as part of these internal changes as we need fewer and different roles as part of this shift in approach," Mozilla's spokesperson said. "We are working with all Mozillians affected to help them transfer to new roles as part of this continued IoT exploration or other roles at Mozilla. If there is not a role for an individual affected, we are providing severance, extended benefits and outplacement services."

Mozilla's retreat from IoT comes a year after it discontinued Firefox OS for mobile phones and four months after it shuttered its Firefox OS TV project, having concluded that effort should be driven by a commercial partner, Panasonic.

The open-source software foundation isn't exactly hurting for funds. It reported $421.3m in revenue in 2015, up from $329.6M in 2014. It derives the bulk of its revenue from Firefox, via search partnerships with firms like Baidu, Google, Yahoo, Yandex, and others.

Firefox has seen its overall share of the browser market slide since 2010, according to StatCounter data, and it hasn't enjoyed the same popularity on mobile phones and tablets as does on desktop and laptop computers. Mozilla's glacial effort to implement multi process support, referred to as Electrolysis, hasn't helped.

While Mozilla has carved out a role for itself as an advocate for open technology standards and privacy, it has failed to come up with compelling software that large numbers of people want to use outside of its browser and its systems programming language Rust.

But on the bright side, Mozilla recently concluded a seven-month effort to come up with a new logo. ®

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