DRM issues kill off Matchstick Firefox OS dongle as pledges refunded

After delays and issues with plans to add DRM, Matchstick is closing down and refunding its backers' money.

Matchstick was meant to be an open hardware and software dongle that would provide an alternative to closed streaming products such as Google's Chromecast, but after less than a year, the project is no more and will be refunding the money it raised in its successful Kickstarter campaign.

The sticking point for Matchstick was the work needed to tackle a digital rights management (DRM) on Firefox OS, which became the focus for the project after announcing a delay in February along with a revised dongle.

"Unfortunately, we are unable to continue on this journey, and we will be refunding all Matchstick pledges," Matchstick said in a blog post.

"After struggling with the DRM development based on Firefox OS for most of this year, we realize continued development of DRM, though showing early signs of promise, will be a long and difficult road. We have come to the conclusion that we will not be able to reliably predict the completion date of the DRM development without significantly more research, development and integration."

Matchstick said it would be refunding 100 percent of the money pledged on Kickstarter, and may take 60 days to complete.

The Firefox OS-powered Matchstick burst onto the hardware scene last year, as the project reached its $100,000 funding target in less than a day, eventually raising over $470,000 in pledges. However, the February switch to support DRM, specifically Microsoft's PlayReady technology, drew the ire of backers.

"You promised open hardware and open software. Now, DRM can't possibly be made in open software, and Microsoft's module surely won't be," one backer said at the time.

Similar sentiments were expressed today as many backers called for Matchstick to ship without DRM support.