Bundling Firefox

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-11-09 Print this article Print

?"> A lot of the latest interest in Firefox [and] switching to Firefox has been driven by people seeking it out, going to Mozilla or other Web sites to download it, on the recommendation of a friend or something they saw on the Web. But Microsoft with Internet Explorer, its main marketing tool, I guess you could say, is the fact it is there on Windows everyday when someone opens their Windows machine. So how are you looking to actually compete with that kind of presence on someones machine? Are you going to be relying exclusively on someone having to seek out Firefox and downloading it, or are you looking at ways that this can be bundled on what theyre already used to, whether it be the desktop or somewhere else?
First of all, being integrated with the Windows OS is a mixed bag. So Microsoft has described for quite some time all the conveniences and why a user would want that, but its becoming increasingly clear what the inconveniences are and why you might not want that. …
The browsers job is to access content on the Web that you dont know about. It may be trustworthy content, it may not be. The browsers job is to access that, and once you get that deeply integrated to the operating system of your own desktop, thats a level of complexity that brings its own set of problems. Although its very technical and hard to understand, I think the basic concept that being integrated with the operating system has a set of disadvantages as well is becoming known. Yes, we are looking at a whole range of distribution possibilities, many of which are new to us and werent available and werent things we could think about before the foundation existed. Its not a time for us to announce additional plans, but we are looking and considering a range of ways to make it easier for people to find Firefox, for it to come to them. Click here to read more about Oracles support of Mozilla browsers. With this 10 percent market share goal for next year, is that presuming that users will proactively download [Firefox], or are you assuming that theres going to be PC makers putting Firefox on desktops or software makers bundling it with other software? What is the assumption of how thats going to be achieved? We see market numbers that vary widely already. Weve seen market numbers as low as 3 percent, which seem low to us, and weve seen them as high as 20-some percent at various Web sites. Were going to continue down the path were on. We think the community marketing path is very powerful and that will take us a good distance. Given all the interest Mozilla has had around Firefox, how are you trying to manage that for the foundation? How are you trying to balance the interest of becoming more popular with the interest of serving the open-source community? The question of balancing different interests is really key to the foundation. … How do we balance both our open-source engineering community with other elements whether [they be] a consumer user base or enterprise needs? Correct me if Im wrong, but there must be a pressure to kind of expand what youre doing to move Firefox out into a bigger part of the market. And that wasnt there a year ago. We, meaning much of our community and the staff and the foundation, are highly focused … on the key mission of choice and innovation on the Net. That drives us. We are a project that has always balanced different things. Weve always balanced an active, passionate development community with, in the early days, Netscape and Netscapes role, and with other commercial interests. Weve always had to balance what is our role as a release for developers and a development platform versus what is our release to an end user. Weve done that balancing forever, and it may become a crisper or a sharper balancing act now that the foundation is independent and Firefox has had such great success. In some portion, well keep doing what weve been doing. Secondly, we have, as you pointed out, a vocal development and testing and evangelism community that feels like they have ownership in this project, and they do because they make it successful. At times … they are very clear about speaking out. … We recognize that its that level of passion that makes the project successful. The consumer side winds up pretty well because most of our community is interested in both technical innovation and in having a browser they can use. On the consumer side that lines up pretty well because having a browser thats really useful and does the right thing is what people want. On the enterprise balance … in some ways its getting easier because more and more enterprises are beginning to understand open source so they arrive knowing that its not exactly the same as a proprietary relationship. … Its not as totally new and different a setting. Next Page: Where is the Mozilla suite going?

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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