Mozilla's Firefox OS streaming stick may give Google's Chromecast a headache

Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. Add another device to the streaming-to-TV media device list, but this one comes from an unlikely source.

Mozilla, creator of the popular open source web browser Firefox, has been doing a poor job of keeping secret the existence of its as-yet-unnamed streaming device for a while now. Rumored to be code-named "Netcast," Mozilla's gadget is said to be a Chromecast-like dongle that plugs into your television, running on Mozilla's own Firefox OS. Firefox OS is the relatively new platform and Android competitor that powers a small number of mobile devices. It hasn't caught on yet but its popularity is rising, albeit slowly.

Mozilla's streaming media device is expected to be open source, just like everything Mozilla creates. Confirmation of the device only came recently when Christian Heilmann, a Mozilla developer with access to a prototype, tweeted a photo of it. Aside from the hero Netcast device Mozilla is working on, the company plans to give its streaming Firefox OS SDK out freely to developers so they can customize the software for their own media streaming devices. Enthusiasm is swelling for the mysterious device because Mozilla's love of all things open source means that their streaming SDK will put no restrictions on what developers can do with the software, what kinds of apps it can run, or the content they can serve to viewers. This stance is in stark contrast to Google's policies on Chromecast, which forces developers to comply with its content standards.

The team at Mozilla has still not yet officially announced the Netcast device, their only on-the-record statement reinforcing the "freely available" nature of Firefox OS and the fact that third-party companies "can experiment with different form factors" that run it. The veiled statement is being read by most users as an "unofficially official" confirmation, given that dongle devices fit the bill as a "different form factor." GigaOm reports that Netcast streams straight from your Firefox web browser to your television, and surprisingly, it's even capable of running some Chromecast apps.

Beyond this and a few glimpses at the prototype hardware and its on-screen user interface (see video below), there are no known details. When will it be available to buy? How much will it cost? Who's manufacturing the flagship device?

Only time will reveal these answers, but it certainly seems as though Mozilla is revving up its PR engines.

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