Mozilla hires new CEO who will focus on Firefox OS

Mozilla hires new CEO who will focus on Firefox OS

Summary: You've known Firefox since its birth as the alternative Web browser company. Now, under the rule of the new CEO Brendan Eich, it wants to be known as your smartphone operating system.


Mozilla, the company behind the popular Firefox Web browser, has been searching for a new CEO since Gary Kovacs, who came on-board in 2010, decided to leave almost a year ago. Mozilla has finally picked a new leader, former CTO Brendan Eich. With him comes change. Mozilla's job number one will not be its Web browser, but its mobile operating system: Firefox OS.

Brendan Eich
Mozilla's new CEO Brendan Eich may have been one of Netscape's early developers and one of Firefox's creator, but it's the smartphone operating system, Firefox OS, that he sees as Mozilla's future.

Eich is best known in technical circles as the inventor of JavaScript in 1995. He started at Mozilla as one of the early deveopers of Firefox's ancester, Netscape Navigator, and became involved with Firefox from its very beginning.

Since August 2005, he's been Mozilla's CTO. Even before his promotion to the top chair, he managed the product and platform engineering teams.

In a CNET interview with Stephen Shankland, Eich explained that while he's been the CTO for almost a decade, he's already been doing management. Looking ahead, he doesn't see himself getting much tech work done.

Instead, he'll be leading "all the parts of Mozilla, including the marketing effort. He also sees Mozilla deliver more Mozilla user servers such as Mozilla Location Service. This will help users use public Wi-Fi access points pinpoint their locations without needing GPS.

The real news moving ahead, however, is that under Eich's leadership Mozilla is making Firefox OS its top project. Eich said he sees the Firefox OS as Mozilla's highest priority. "It's like the great circus act — spinning plates while doing back handsprings, and we are definitely turning mobile in the only way that can be really effective. The highest priority is to get volume to Firefox OS, especially the $25 phones."

Can Mozilla make the jump from Web browsers to smartphones? Eich is determined to make it happen. The company has already been making changes, such as adding ads to its browser, and putting more and more emphasis on Firefox OS.

Mozilla may be being led now by one of its founders, but it's no longer going down its old roads. With a shrinking Web browser marketshare and a business model that was far too dependent on Google's good graces, it was time for a radical change. Now we'll see if Firefox OS can beat out Windows Phone and Ubuntu to become the number three smartphone operating system after Android and iOS — or if they'll die trying.

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Topics: Mobility, Mobile OS, Open Source, Leadership

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  • Forget Firefox OS...

    How about you work towards fixing the resource hog that is Firefox browser? It's not 2004 anymore Mozilla, it's time to modernize or assets.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • *your

      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Somebody's got a vote-spammer...

        But beyond that, I agree.

        While I have no problem with resource issues, its touch implementation is beyond horrible.

        Mozilla needs to get its act together.
        • Touch vs non touch.

          Touch vs. non touch is going to rage on for years yet. It's not going to change the fact that Firefox is one of the lousiest browsers available right now. The Gecko engine is killing them. It's slower than slow.
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Resources?

      For a little while now Firefox has beat the other major browsers in memory usage with multiple tabs open, with Chrome being the biggest memory hog.
      Perhaps your experience or data is dated.
    • Chrome 34, Firefox 29, Internet Explorer 11: Memory Use 2014

      I ditched Firefox some time ago for Chrome for this reason along with the constant update interruptions, but your post made me wonder whether the claim that Firefox is a resource hog is still true. It looks like that is no longer the case according to this article.
      Bad Sector
      • What constant update interruptions?

        Firefox doesn't update all that often - a major update every six weeks. There are occasional security updates in between, the last version had one - an update every 3 weeks is hardly constant updates. If you want fewer updates, you can install the extended support release and skip the major updates for a year. The default settings download the updates automatically, anyway; you just have to restart the browser to install them, which just takes a few seconds. It doesn't seem like much of a burden to me.
  • Thunderbird

    I hope that they do not forgo TBird in this rush to the Firefox OS!
  • Firefox OS

    Maybe you should use Firefox to write your story. It has spell check. The word is spelled Ancestor not ancester!
    • And that would be

      a spelling checker, Firefox doesn't, as fair as I know, cater for graduates of Hogwarts. ;-)
  • Firefox is over

    Firefox jumped the shark years ago in my opinion. They were amazing in the mid 2000s when they were the only real alternative to IE6, but today they are a bloated mess. Google Chrome is pretty much the only way to go nowadays.
  • In the words of the immortal Harry Callahan

    "a man's got to know his limitations". It works for companies, too. Best to stick to a browser, as lately, they are not even getting that one right.
  • Mozilla hires new CEO who will focus on Firefox OS

    As long as Firefox OS is based on a linux kernel it will fail in today's mobile market. It has been unstable as seen in the android OS. Freezing and reboots plague it. Mozilla needs to focus more on their browser and other products.
    • I think Android refutes your statement.

      Over 70% of the mobile market.
    • Orly

      Then why is Linux THE dominant player in server environments where "Freezing and reboots" could cost businesses tens of thousands of dollars in lost customers and work.
  • Firefox OS

    Darn, I was starting to get excited that maybe they would come up with a new OS to replace windows on my desk top and lap top computers, I have no use for a smartphone OS...but I would replace windows if they had one that I could depend on to run everything I have on windows now...
    • Who is to say they won't?

      I don't think there is any fundamental limitation that would prevent a cloud/browser-based operating system like Firefox OS from being used on desktops/laptops. Actually, a cloud/browser-based operating system probably has a better chance than a device-based operating system of being that cross-form factor OS that many companies are trying to create.

      Incidentally, there is a cloud/browser-based operating system being used on laptops and desktops - Chrome OS. You could buy a chromebook for $200 and see if it can meet your needs or not via web-based applications like Google Docs and the like.
  • BEzOS

    At some point, Bezos is going to tire of having his tablet (and maybe someday phone) wagon hitched to Google's star. If they can make Firefox OS solid and fast, he might buy it somewhere along the way. Of course his development shop that works on Kindle software may already be bigger than Mozilla.
    Robert Hahn
    • Bezos is cheap and has to be given Amazon's margins

      He's happy to use Google's AOSP for Amazon Fire OS and Red Hat's RHEL for Amazon Linux (which is the default image for Amazon EC2). Let Google and Red Hat shoulder the lion's share of the OS development costs.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • "Mozilla's job number one will not be its Web browser, but ... Firefox OS"

    Bye, Mozilla. :(

    IMO, Mozilla needs to double down on the following:

    o Provide complete add-on support for Firefox for Android
    o Get Firefox for Android into Amazon's app store

    Android has a much better future than does Firefox OS. Mozilla needs to strive to be the web browser of choice on Android- and AOSP-based devices. Just as it has done with the Windows desktop and OS X.
    Rabid Howler Monkey