Can Mozilla build a better Chromecast using Firefox OS?

by: Jonathan FeistJune 22, 2014

Mozilla Firefox OS Netcast streaming stick #codepo8 on Twitter

According to reports, Mozilla’s mobile-centric Firefox OS has been put to use on a new streaming stick that will directly compete with, and even take over aspects of, Google’s Chromecast.

Google gave users a knockout device in the $35 Chromecast media streaming dongle. The idea behind both devices is to just plug the little guys into an empty HDMI port on your favorite screen to give it some smarts, as controlled by a connected Android device. The whole process is super simple, having you up and enjoying HD content on a large screen in no time.

Based on the success of Chromecast, it is no surprise that other manufacturers have built competing devices. We’ve seen a modified Roku take a stab at it, and, even though I consider it a different category of device, Amazon got into the set-top box ring with their Fire TV. Mozilla’s hat in the ring goes by the name Netcast, and there is a short video showing it in action.

Is it better than Chromecast?

Obviously, we only have the same video provided by GigaOm to work from, so far. Out out of the box, it appears as though Netcast acts as a Chromecast receiver for your cast enabled Android apps. What I find particularly interesting is that the video shows off YouTube functionality, but the interface on the TV appears to be nothing more than a full screen implementation of the same interface that is available to any web browser. I could be wrong about the interface, but that is a mark against the Netcast, for those keeping score.

Firefox OS  uses YouTube TV Interface interface on a standard laptop

Let’s turn things around, Google has a tight grip over Chromecast, providing an easy to implement, but limited scope SDK to developers. Just check back in with Koush and his AllCast app history for more info on that. Due to the open nature of Firefox OS, the new streaming stick is left open for anyone to work with. Presumably, any OS or device could be configured to ‘fling’ any content to the Netcast dongle.

chromecast-homescreen vs Firefox OS

If the device proves powerful and flexible enough, this could reasonably mean that we would be able to mirror our Android devices to the big screen, something many users have expected from Chromecast, but have been left wanting. Sorry Google, that’s worth at least 5 points, putting the Firefox OS streaming stick in the lead.


Chromecast is inexpensive, highly accessible, widely supported and already plugged into millions of TVs. Mozilla’s Netcast is a theory, a device that promises to outdo Chromecast, but it has a long way to go before really making an impression.

We really need to wait for specs and a price tag for Netcast, but if Mozilla can launch the it at similar or sub-Chromecast pricing, it may stand a chance. On the other hand, based on current market penetration of Firefox OS, we have a hard time expecting big things. Nothing against Firefox OS, but we’re really not seeing it in the wild – their own sales channel shows just 502 purchasers of the currently available phone with the OS pre-installed.

What do you think, am I being too harsh on the Netcast without seeing specs and prices?

  • Nope.

    • Who cares anyway

      i like the picture.

  • Francisco Enrique Perez Abreu

    The key is… make it cheaper.

    • Corbin Crutch

      Sad…. But true

  • fredphoesh

    Unless it does Flash video and stuff that Chromecast cannot, i dont see how it will be successful. So many HUGE sites still use flash, TennisTV, BBC, Amazon prime video etc… allow us to bypass the region restrictive google dns servers and allow flash and YES, i will buy three.

    • Old Sage

      Last time I used APIV they were using Silverlight.

  • K2

    Plug the little ‘guys’ in to give it some smarts eh? Can you please ‘refrian’ from calling devices as ‘guys’. Otherwise i will stop visiting this site.

    • Jayfeather787

      You don’t like the little guys? Why not? The little guys are cool. It’s your choice to visit this website. If you leave, it doesn’t really matter. It’s great to have you here, but if you leave, it’s fine as well.

      • Corbin Crutch

        Yeah, seriously. Not your article, not your terminology

      • K2

        I know it doesnt matter to you, but what does AA feel the same about a regular visitor leaving the site matters more to me.

        • Jayfeather787

          It’s likely they don’t care.

          • pheymanss

            It’s likely they DO care, cause that’s where the money comes from.

          • Jayfeather787

            One leaves, 2 more join. AA probably is cool with it.

          • Corbin Crutch

            Hydra of Android fans.

          • K2

            If they dint do this, they would have had ”Nobody leaves, two more join”.

          • K2

            And three is better than two.

          • K3 – Superior

            take your tumblr attitude and get out of here :|

          • K2

            ‘Assuming’ two more join.

          • Corbin Crutch

            Not if they have AdBlock

          • Lucas Teixeira Gouveia

            Nonsense!!!! Nobody uses AdBlock.

          • Corbin Crutch

            Oh yeah…. I forgot… Noooooone

    • Pain in your…

      Little gals? Better?

      • K2

        Nope. Call devices as devices or things. Not ‘guys’ or ‘gals’.

        • Corbin Crutch

          Okay, what about ships?

          • K2

            Ships are okay.

          • Corbin Crutch


    • Hey K2. I am sorry you did not appreciate the terminology, I completely agree that it is altogether incorrect word usage, and ultimately a very poor sentence. My high school instructors would be mortified. Thing is, I would not change it; my goal is to explain the tech first and foremost, but to do so in a relatively entertaining manner that gets you thinking and elicits conversation. I am afraid that this conversation now, although not of the tech, is an interaction with you, our loyal reader, thus ‘rewarding’ me for my playful word usage.

      Thank you for saying something though, I will be more mindful and try to be more creative in the future.

      Back to the tech, I do look forward to Mozilla getting this ‘little guy’ to market, it would be great to compare it to the Chromecast to see what it’s got. What do you think?

  • Alex

    With this and the TVs that Panasonic is going to launch with Firefox OS, FFOS will start to be a good alternative for our TVs!! :D

  • Alex

    Would it be possible to have popcorn on this?

  • loop6719

    this would be great, now i wont be forced to use that stupid chrome browser, (but forced to use FFos.)
    If only mozilla would make an app so I could continue using my chromecast but use FF as my browser. I have seen all the rumors but nothing in concrete yet

    • s2weden2000

      Aijphoney user aY?

  • Hey that 502 phones is from ZTE eBay store for the U.S. a market that is not the market for Firefox OS… Firefox OS phones have been launched in 22 countries with 4 global telecoms and 5 hardware makers. LG, ZTE, Alcatel, Huawei and Geeksphone are all shipping Firefox OS devices.

  • Insomniac9000

    I just thought of this while scrolling by the article, but if they change the name to “Flamethrower” I’m completely sold. (Yes, i know it’s a weird idea!)

  • Old Sage

    WDDIM? You still have to pay subscriptions. Might as well keep cable. But, since I’m dumping cable, maybe I’ll look at the little guy.

  • Yaritza Miranda

    It’s better using Led Lampen