Matchstick

Firefox OS alternative to Chromecast delayed

Whilst Firefox OS may not have yet taken the smartphone world by storm, there are still some who believe that it has the potential to compete in other arenas. A Chromecast rival powered by Firefox OS has generated a lot of interest, but those looking forward to testing out the new device will have to wait a little while longer.

Early enthusiasm for Matchstick – the Firefox OS alternative to Chromecast – was demonstrated by a Kickstarter funding campaign, which raised $470,310 (€415,000/£310,000), after setting an initial goal of $100,000 (€90,000/£65,000). The start-up behind Matchstick originally expected to ship the device to initial backers during February but now anticipates that it will ready for dispatch in August 2015.

Four key areas have been highlighted as being behind the delay, with improvements being promised for hardware, software, content and third-party developer support.

As far as Matchstick’s hardware is concerned, the device will now include a more powerful quad-core processor, rather than the dual-core CPU that was originally going to be used.

Perhaps most interesting of all the changes is that improved wi-fi performance has been promised, as poor connectivity has affected users of similar products, such as the Chromecast.

There are two main reasons why these types of devices can sometimes struggle as far as connectivity is concerned.

With TVs often tucked into the corner of a room, and with HDMI ports typically located on the back of a TV, devices like the Chromecast and Matchstick are frequently positioned in areas where wi-fi signals are weak. And in addition, due to their size, media streaming dongles are unable to support large wi-fi antennas – a factor which also contributes to the problem.

By improving wi-fi performance, the team behind Matchstick hope to give their product an edge over the competition.

“We’ve spent some considerable time reviewing ways to improve the antenna to ensure a consistent connection that some of the applications will require,” a Matchstick spokesperson acknowledged.

In terms of software changes, DRM support will be added to Matchstick. Whilst DRM is something of a controversial topic – particularly amongst the open source community that Matchstick has courted – it will allow for services such as Netflix to be supported.

Another reason for the delay is to develop more relationships with content providers. This is a fairly logical more, as Matchstick alternatives such as Google Chromecast and the Roku Streaming Stick are already able to offer a significant amount of content to users.

As well as big-name content providers, the Matchstick team is also hoping to attract more third-party developers. There is already a number of developer resources available on the official Matchstick website, with both software and hardware information provided.

Attracting independent developers will undoubtedly be a big challenge, as relationships will have to be built from scratch.

In the case of Chromecast, it was arguably more straightforward to convince developers to offer support.

With so many developers already having worked on products for Google’s mobile OS – in the form of Android apps – relationships had already been established.

[via Re/code]