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Mozilla Bets On Software To Sell Its Chromecast Competitor

Mozilla's Matchstick streaming device is entering a crowded market. The company is banking on open-source software to rise above the competition.
Posted at 5:49 AM, Oct 01, 2014

Google's Chromecast streaming media device is about to have some competition, thanks to Mozilla's upcoming entry into the streaming stick market.

"The first HDMI streaming stick powered by Mozilla's Firefox OS. Use your phone, tablet, or laptop to watch movies, listen to music, and play games right on your TV." (Video via Kickstarter / Matchstick.tv)

It's called Matchstick — a $25 HDMI, WiFi-connected device that offers much of the same functionality as Chromecast. So what sets it apart? Matchstick is banking on its open-source software.

"Our goal was to make a streaming stick that was low cost, high design, and extremely adaptable without the walled garden for app developers that tends to slow progress. ... It's what Chromecast WANTED to be."

Seemingly in the spirit of that open source mentality, the Matchstick is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter. The project has collected over 90 percent of its $100,000 funding goal. You can snag a Matchstick on Kickstarter for $18, a $7 discount off the retail price for being an early supporter.

The crowdfunding route, however, has a writer for Geek.com a little skeptical. "Matchstick is supposedly a complete thought already, which makes this Kickstarter more of a pre-order page. ... it’s a zero-risk solution that doesn’t inspire a ton of faith in this project."

And a writer for CNET reminds us Mozilla is looking to tackle a pretty crowded streaming market. It's one filled with devices from Apple, Amazon and Roku to name a few.

But again, Matchstick is relying on its open-source software to rise above the market. 

The device will feature familiar content from Netflix, HBO Go, ESPN, Hulu, Spotify and more. But it'll also support apps made for Chromecast.

That's right — developers who've created apps for Chromecast can make them available to Matchstick users without needing to edit their code. 

It really all comes down to one question: should you buy the Matchstick instead of Chromecast or any number of other streaming devices?

Gizmodo says yes. "Mozilla is promising a ton of content for not a ton of cash. From the looks of it, it works like most every streaming stick we've seen, but with a better price and on an open OS."

But Gigaom takes a more reserved stance, writing "To actually compete with Chromecast ... it is going to need two things: Netflix and other premium apps as well as that one killer app or feature that sets it apart from Chromecast."

We'll see whether Matchstick can live up to the challenge when it ships to consumers early next year — if it can raise the last $10,000 of its Kickstarter goal, that is.

This video includes images from Getty Images and Roku and music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 3.0.