It looks as if Mozilla's fledging inroad to expand the its browser's presence and foothold toward connected devices will stop.
The company announced to employees on Thursday that it is shutting down the whole connected devices division, the team responsible for extending the Firefox platform to connected devices — such as smart TVs and the likes.
Firefox Lay Offs Whole Division
Although Firefox didn't specify the number, CNET reports the shutdown affects some 50 people. Ari Jaaksi, the SVP of the division, is exiting, and so is Bertrand Neveux, the division's software director. Mozilla had about 1,000 employees at 2016's closing.
Mozilla Is Rerouting Its Focus
With connected devices out of its priorities, Mozilla is pouring its labor elsewhere.
"We have shifted our internal approach to the internet-of-things opportunity," said Mozilla. The move is supposed to aid Mozilla in redirecting its focus to developing commercial products to research, development, and emerging technologies.
Though Firefox is still by far one of the best web browsers at present, its relevance has long been usurped by formidable foe Google Chrome. The layoffs will certainly handicap the company's efforts to reaffirm Firefox's relevance, proving that reclaiming the top spot as the internet browser of choice will be more difficult in light of the situation.
Mozilla attempted to expand the presence of Firefox's web technology to other devices, although such an effort struggled to gain adoption. Its waning popularity arrives at a challenging point — the number of people accessing the internet via smartphones, a platform Firefox is weak at, continue to grow.
While Firefox had once been triumphant in besting Internet Explorer in the past, its existence on smartphones and tablets, especially in recent years, could sure use a huge bump. It's nearly absent on both platforms, which account for increasing internet usage worldwide. The browser's share of usage dropped to 14.9 percent on PCs and 6.8 percent on all devices, as per StatCounter, a web analytics firm.
Mozilla Is Making Sure Its Layoffs Are Taken Care Of
While the shutdown is surely terrible news for the individuals who have travailed under the division, it looks like Mozilla is doing what it can to make sure employees land as gently as possible. The company said it's working to transfer affected employees to other internal positions. Should a position become unavailable, "severance, extended benefits and outplacement services" will be provided to employees who won't have internal positions to fill.
Despite its waning growth, Mozilla doesn't seem to be in dire financial straits, as per CNET's report. Recent tax returns show that through partnerships with Yahoo, Russia's Yandex, and China's Baidu, the company made a cool $421 million last year. On top of that, Mozilla is hiring as of this time.
"People are the reason why we can get anything done — this isn't lost on us — and we did not make this decision lightly," the company said.
Had Mozilla's plan for connected devices pushed through, projects that could have potentially materialized are software to track personal schedules, check air quality, monitor one's household, and promote security and privacy for connected devices.