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Startup MatchStick Aims to Build a $25 "Open Chromecast" Using Firefox OS

The company is reaching out to developers and taking preorders on KickStarter, with hopes of a broad launch by January.


Mozilla was quick to dismiss a June report that it was getting into competition with Google by developing a Firefox OS-powered streaming media stick.

Days later, though, it did confirm it was working with a partner who was building such a device. On Tuesday, the startup — MatchStick — is going public with its product plans.

“Simply put, it’s an open Chromecast,” General Manager Jack Chang told Re/code.

The San Jose-based company will start taking Kickstarter orders for the dongle, with plans to ship the first units in January. The company hopes to sell all units for under $25, with the first ones being offered on Kickstarter for just $12 and more to be sold at $18.

MatchStick also plans a program to encourage app makers and a November developer event. Fulfilling its promise to be totally open, MatchStick is also making available both the source code for its software and the schematics of its hardware dongle.

“The reason why we are working with Firefox OS is (that) Mozilla endorses the very same principals of openness,” Chang said.

MatchStick is backed by Chinese hardware maker aBitCool and other investors, who Chang said he could not disclose. Mozilla is not one of the investors, Chang said.

Chang said the company is also working with Mozilla to try to get more content partners, which it knows will be key to it having any success. However, he said it was too soon to name names.

“Premium content is obviously something we need to have on this platform,” Chang said.

Beyond Chromecast, there are dozens of boxes and dongles that turn ordinary televisions into smart TVs (Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, etc.), not to mention all the smart-TV platforms from the display manufacturers themselves.

Mozilla’s primary focus for Firefox OS has been getting the software used in low-end smartphones, though Panasonic did announce plans to use Firefox OS in some smart televisions. Earlier this year, a $99 Firefox OS phone from ZTE went on sale in the U.S. via eBay, while Mozilla has been talking up the possibility of a $25 Firefox phone.

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