Updated on February 6, 2016
Firefox OS dies with strings attached
I was wrong. When writing Schrödinger’s Firefox OS last month, I aggregated all communication channels within Mozilla to bring a focused and unbiased blog post explaining the situation, which was true at that point.
However, things seemed to change now, with Mozilla management deciding to kill Firefox OS for smartphones for good. Yes, it’s over. Not a single employee will be assigned to work on Firefox OS for smartphones after the 2.6 release. While for an outsider this might not be surprising news, it contradicts with a lot of points communicated by Mozilla Leadership in December 2015. Check out the announcement on Mozilla Discourse.
Concretely, we were told back in December that smartphones would be an essential part of Connected Devices, yet it seems that some people might have changed their mind now. While the process of giving feedback and chiming in regarding the future of Connected Devices has been opened up in the last weeks, suggestions from not only contributor’s side, but also staff side, has fallen onto deaf ears.
- We will end development on Firefox OS for smartphones after the version 2.6 release. This means that Firefox OS for smartphones will no longer have staff involvement beyond May.
- The foxfooding program will continue and will focus on these new product innovations (rather than improving the smartphone experience). We expect the Sony Z3C foxfooding devices to be useful in this, but we expect it to take until the end of March to figure out the specific design of this program.
While I really hope to be wrong with this assumption, how can it be that not a single thing suggested by the community is reflected in the new announcement? I feel like being a toddler who just keeps talking yet no one listens to. Same goes to a lot of other Mozillians who have similar frustrations. How can you ask for our feedback when it’s not even remotely looking like someone is listening to us?
But seriously, it’s absurd how things are being broken from the upper management and Participation tries to fix the leaking holes in real time. Kind of like the Participation team being The First Aid instead of preventing these issues in the first place.
It’s not Participation’s fault though. Mozilla’s decision making process from above hasn’t been transparent for a long time now. Instead of being part of the conversation, decisions are thrown over the wall with no way to return back, even when there is fierce opposition.
I do not wish to take part in post-mortem discussions when these discussions have already happened before the decision, yet were not taken into account. It’s simply an insult of my time, which I could have used to make an actual lasting impact in some other project. I look like a fool now, talking about how Firefox OS is not dead, and the exact opposite fact is shoved into my face one beautiful morning. Lesson learned.
One chance too much
Mozilla is slowly turning into Canonical. Once so heavily devoted into community, now mostly driven by corporate strategies and decisions. Everything marvelous we have achieved is in the past now. We still pride ourselves of Firefox and other success scenarios when these have been years ago. Regaining the trust of your users can be achieved, but once you lose the trust of your very own volunteers, things are set to go downhill.
I hear the Participation team asking us to talk about the issue to improve for the next time. I cannot bear hearing that sentence anymore. If someone says they’re sorry for the 3rd or 4th time repeating the same mistake, how can you take them seriously?
Don’t spend efforts fixing your symptoms Mozilla. Fix the root of the problem first, which is the very opaque communication within the community, followed by a centralized decision-making process. Sponsored trips and free swag won’t keep contributors motivated for eternity, You have crossed the line already.
Notes: For the time being I will focus my efforts in Mozilla Community Design solely and the local Mozilla community in Albania. Furthermore, I will be contributing more of my time to the Fedora project, which is messy, yet has a very transparent decision-making process.
While I’m very disappointed from the Mozilla Leadership team, I thank the Participation team for driving efforts to improve communication and involvement across Mozilla. Unfortunately it has not been enough to prevent this situation.