Chromecast faces competition from Firefox OS streaming stick

23 Jun 2014

Image via Christian Heilmann (@codepo8) on Twitter

An as-yet-unnamed manufacturer has developed a more open alternative to Google’s Chromecast: a hack-friendly Firefox OS-based streaming stick that comes with much of the Chromecast’s capabilities and none of its restrictions.

News of this device began to leak out last week when developer and self-described Mozilla evangelist Christian Heilmann tweeted an image of the prototype device currently being seeded to a small cohort of developers.

“A fully open TV casting prototype device running #FirefoxOS. Open boot loader and all,” proclaimed Heilmann’s tweet on Thursday and, since then, Janko Roettgers, senior writer at GigaOM, also managed to get his hands on the TV-casting prototype.

The Firefox OS-based media stick – which will no doubt have a sexier name once it’s officially announced – operates similarly to Google’s Chromecast and allows you to ‘fling’ any content to your TV using any software.

The unique selling point for this Chromecast competitor is that users can stream content without Google’s content or platform restrictions. For example, Google’s Chromecast SDK terms of service forbid sexually explicit apps and so far the service is limited to Android, iOS and web apps.

In keeping with Mozilla’s open web standards, the hack-friendly Firefox streaming stick is a more open alernative which, upon its release, could make it possible to cast content from mobile platforms currently lacking in this technology, such as Windows Phone and Firefox OS.

According to Roettgers, it even works with some Google apps such as YouTube and Google Play Music.

The manufacturer of the dinky device is not yet known, and neither is the extent of Mozilla’s involvement with the project, but it is believed that a more formal announcement will be made later this year.

UPDATE 23 June 2014 at 12.06pm: A Mozilla representative has clarified that the company is not involved in the development of this project. “This is not a Mozilla project, and we do not make devices,” a company representative told Re/code. “Firefox OS is an open platform freely available for any company to build on without restrictions. This means companies can experiment with different form factors that run Firefox OS.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.