The Mozilla Foundation is planning a renewed marketing push around the latest update to its Firefox open-source Web browser in order to boost the products visibility among consumers.
Despite the effort, some industry watchers contend that it will remain a significant challenge for the nonprofit group to win more users away from Microsoft Corp.
On Tuesday, Mozilla released Firefox 1.5, the much-awaited update to the free browser software that promises a slate of improvements ranging from faster Web page downloads to improved security features.
Based on open-source code, or programs developed in a public community within which the underlying design of a software program is shared among developers, Firefox claims to be a more reliable alternative to Microsofts Internet Explorer.
By midday Wednesday, Mozilla officials said the browser had already been downloaded the groups Web site well over 1 million times.
Throughout the browsers development, officials from the Mountain View, Calif., organization have been pledging to launch an aggressive marketing scheme aimed at raising the browsers profile with consumers.
According to Paul Kim, director of product marketing for Mozilla, the first elements of the promotional campaign will kick off over the next several weeks and rely heavily on existing users of Firefox to help convince other people to try out the browser.
The first stage of the initiative will consist of a program known as the Firefox Flicks campaign, which will consist of 30-second video testimonials from existing users of the browser about why they prefer the technology.
Mozilla plans to create an online software tool to help individuals produce the clips and submit them.
The marketing effort will also feature a Web page that allows visitors to view a virtual map of the globe that denotes where people submitting the testimonials live.
Kim said that Firefox will roll out a series of additional marketing programs over the first half of 2006, and that it will also look to gain visibility via its search partnership with Google Inc. in the Americas and in Europe, and its newly announced partnership with Yahoo in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
The executive said that rather than trying to saturate people with high-profile advertisements, Mozilla will continue to lean on its customers to tell its story to the masses.
"I dont think youll see us buy a Super Bowl ad, but well try to be smart about getting the message out whether via our own efforts or through our work with partners," Kim said.
"The common theme will be us telling the community of Firefox users that they are the best marketing tool that we could hope for; thats a lot more relevant to [consumers] than anything that we can come up with."
In terms of funding its marketing efforts, Kim said that Mozilla would continue to use its partnerships to gain exposure without making large-scale capital investments, in addition to collecting donations online, as the group does today.
Since launching just over one year ago, Firefox has garnered significant attention for attracting over 100 million downloads and siphoning some market share away from Explorer.
According to Onestat.com, which analyzes Internet traffic, Firefoxs slice of the worldwide browser market is currently holding at 11 percent, compared to Internet Explorers 85 percent share of the business.
Analysts at Janco Research report that Firefox ranks second in the browser segment with roughly 10 percent of all users, while Explorer still commands 85 percent of the market.