Mozilla working on Firefox OS Chromecast clone

Caroline Gabriel/Wireless Watch

Mozilla is hoping to jam its foot in the living room door with a Firefox OS powered HDMI dongle that apes Google’s Chromecast. While currently lacking a name, release date and price, it’s highly likely that the Mozilla dongle will aim at maximizing platform and app support in line with its open source founding principles.

The project is still officially unannounced, but Mozilla’s Developer Evangelist Christian Heilmann tweeted a picture of the prototype device. It is still unknown who Mozilla will be working with to manufacture the device, or whether it will offload and license production to interested third parties looking for an open source video-stick.

This is the third such HDMI stick to be seen in the wild, following Chromecast and the Roku Streaming Stick. Although the Mozilla unit has yet to make it to market, it does represent a challenge to Google’s living room dominance in this sector of the TV and video market, especially if it is adopted by players looking to enter the TV market on the back of a cheap set top equivalent.

Cellular operators and ISPs in particular are best placed to exploit the device to jump into the market with a piece of CPE that can easily be recouped on a low monthly subscription.

However, it seems that Chromecast is experiencing something of a downturn, with news surfacing that sales of the stick are plummeting. While the $30 device was certainly a cool product, and a popular stocking-filler when it launched, it looks like it has already neared market saturation – bad news for Mozilla if it plans to simply imitate the Google device as it looks like the stick won’t fly off the shelves if it is not paired with a TV service.

A video of the device in action shows it running Chromecast apps, working in an identical manner and allowing users to cast content from a mobile device app and the Firefox app. Mozilla has been working on adding Chromecast functionality to its browser as well as support for Roku devices, according to recent developer notes.

The notes frequently mention a “Netcast” device, presumably the dongle, which Mozilla will push as a more open and adaptable alternative to Chromecast. This may bring on-board the Windows and Amazon mobile ecosystems, as well as companies looking to add their own software to the module thanks to the reported open boot loader. Mozilla added that “Firefox OS is an open platform freely available for any company to build on top of without restriction. This means companies can experiment with different form factors that run Firefox OS.”

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