The Mozilla Foundation, the not-for-profit group responsible for the Firefox browser (among other things) has announced plans to restructure in the wake of COVID-19, and it’s bad news for virtual reality (VR) fans.
The company announced 250 lay-offs this week, as it rejigs its priorities for the future, in ways that were not part of the pre-pandemic road map.
As the company moves towards identifying itself more as a ‘problem solver’ for Web citizens, several projects have been cut or dramatically reduced in size, including the entire Taipei operation being shut down.
The big news is the end of the team responsible for Firefox XR, one of the most promising projects to emerge out of the VR resurgence in the last few years.
That’s a significant spanner in the works for the future of VR to develop as a pervasive and open source technology, and as such, will reduce the number of outlets for Adult content providers looking to bring VR experiences to the widest possible market. The move will also mean that the Firefox Reality browser will be retired.
It’s particularly worrying for the adult market because most of the proprietary VR applications on the market have a strict “walled-garden” policy which makes it difficult, or in some cases impossible to get their content to its audience through regular channels (though there’s usually a workaround).
From the tone of the announcement, it seems that XR is a victim of COVID that may well have continued in normal times, however the relatively slow pace of VR adoption outside the adult market made it ripe for the chop, when put alongside the many other products in the Mozilla stable.
There is a glimmer of light in all this. Although the XR team is being disbanded, Firefox Hubs, the socially-based VR web app, will continue, at least for the foreseeable future.
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