The most 2024 things to do are laying off staff and eyeing up AI – Mozilla's doing both

Firefox Mobile also getting increased attention

Firefox maker Mozilla has laid off "approximately 60" staff, or around five percent of its workforce.

"We're scaling back investment in some product areas in order to focus on the ones that we feel have the greatest chance of success," a spokesperson told The Register. We understand Mozilla's VPN, Relay, and on Mastodon will be de-emphasized, while the Hubs chatroom software is for the chopping block.

Alongside the job cuts, Mozilla intends to "re-prioritize resources towards products like Firefox Mobile and AI, where there's a significant opportunity to grow and establish a better model for the industry."

The job cuts and change of direction come just days after the org's longtime CEO Mitchell Baker stepped down and was replaced by board director Laura Chambers as interim chief exec. It's hoped a permanent CEO will be found by the end of the year.

It's unclear if the redundancies reflect Chambers' vision for the org, or were already planned. Also unknown is how Mozilla intends to address the mobile browser and AI markets.

The former is a tough market. Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome are bundled with the overwhelming majority of mobile devices and, according to web-watching outfit StatCounter, enjoy a combined global market share of almost ninety percent. Samsung's browser, included with most of its handsets, has just over four percent of the market. Firefox is the sixth most used mobile browser, with just half a percentage point of market share.

Mozilla has, of late, argued that Firefox would do better if platform builders – namely Apple, Google, and Microsoft – were forced to stop using technical requirements to make it hard for third-party developers to create browsers that can match their own efforts.

Apple recently made the minor concession of allowing browsers to use engines other than its own WebKit on devices running in iOS – but only in Europe. That gives Mozilla's Gecko browser engine an opportunity to shine – and perhaps explains why the org is prioritizing Firefox Mobile development.

On the AI front, Mozilla has previously flagged its intention to develop trustworthy open-source AI, by targeting "opportunities that could be socially critical but remain under-incentivized in the field at large."

With Google and Microsoft baking AI features into their browsers, The Register fancies Mozilla knows it has to at least match those efforts to keep Firefox relevant – because the org's schtick of creating open source and privacy-centric tools has not enthused much of the market. ®

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