Archive for May 14th, 2008

Review of Summer ’08 Goals

May 14th, 2008

Here’s a review and evaluation of the “Summer 2008 Goals” that I described in my last post. Indented text is the material that was written two years ago.

Summer 2008 Goals

1. Make the Mozilla project a centerpiece of the Internet. Why? To make our values, our “meme” a fundamental piece of the Internet’s future

  • Contributors come to Mozilla to get involved
  • Developers come to Mozilla resources to build good web-related apps (akin to going to MS to build their type of app
  • Thought leaders come to Mozilla to see our technology and learn what we think
  • Security world comes to Mozilla to see how we do things
  • Users come to Mozilla because they trust us and our products
  • MoFo, MoCo, others well integrated for benefit of the project
  • Others follow our lead even if don’t support our values (e.g., IE7)

Background: If I were to have picked only one goal, this would have been it. We’re trying to move Internet life towards the views expressed in the Mozilla Manifesto. To do that we need to be a significant actor (not the significant actor, but one of the central actors) in Internet development. The more central we are the more we can promote an open, secure, distributed style of online life.

Evaluation: Wow. We’ve done this. I don’t mean that we’ve accomplished every example, the examples are just that, examples of indicators. Here’s where we are:

  • We’re a centerpiece of the user experience, with over 170 million people worldwide experiencing the Web through the Firefox ecosystem.
  • Mozilla’s development and testing communities have scaled along with our user growth.
  • Our outreach/adoption/marketing communities have expanded dramatically in both numbers and scope of activities undertaken.
  • Thought leaders, the press and the industry come to Mozilla both to see our technology and to learn what we think in areas as diverse as Firefox, Prism, Weave, mobile and even small projects such as our social project the “Coop” some time back.
  • People use Mozilla technologies to build products far beyond our focus; in fact people are positioning Mozilla technology as an entry into the “Rich Internet Application” realm even as we’re promoting the Web as the platform.
  • The “browser” is once again understood to be a fundamental piece of the Internet experience, rather than an esoteric piece of the operating system that people can safely forget about. As a result Microsoft has recreated a browser team and has made some improvements to its browser offering.
  • Technology thinkers, governments, developers and users are all interested in what Mozilla is doing.
  • Mozilla is a key voice in the development and adoption of web standards and is often used by website developers as a reference implementation for critical web standards. This is great for the Internet as it promotes compatibility for all browsers.
  • We’re a centerpiece in the awareness of open source and free software, where our consumer products are often the first open source/free software product that a consumer interacts with directly. Our increased contact with people in India, Brazil, Argentina and China reveal intense interest in Mozilla, and nascent communities eager for greater contact and involvement.

We’re not perfect of course and there’s plenty of room for improvement. The Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation (and now Mozilla Messaging) are still confusing to many people and need to be more understandable. Our security record is outstanding, and yet we still find our transparency leads to inaccurate press reports and analyses. Our planning processes are radically transparent and yet sometimes there is so much publicly available information that it’s hard to determine what is important.

We can’t lose focus and we can’t stand still, we need to keep moving forward. We start today from a different place than we did two years ago, and that is a tremendous achievement.

2. Increase Firefox usage to 30% of global browser usage. Why? To embed our values deep in the Internet and make the other goals far more likely.

  • Increase use in many locales
  • Increase use in current high-use locales through creative distribution
  • Must be done in ways that further our product vision, not at its expense
  • 30% not intended as absolutist or maximum target

Background: In this goal we set out one of the key drivers in making us a centerpiece of the Internet — Firefox usage. Mozilla is much more than Firefox, but it is the Firefox userbase that gives us such great mindshare and that causes the Internet industry to respond. There wasn’t any science in picking 30%. We thought other numbers (20%, 25%) might be plenty, but we felt comfortable that there would be no doubt at 30%. We also knew that we’re not done at 30%. There are plenty more people who would enjoy their online experience more with Firefox. We picked a number — and an extremely aggressive one at that — to have something concrete in our minds.

Evaluation: We set an audacious goal –something between doubling and tripling our then-current market share — and we’re well on the way to achieving it. We’re making great progress but can’t check off the 30% marker as done yet. Current third party reports show us at 29 or 30% in Europe and something like 22% worldwide. We have achieved the underlying goal, which is growing marketshare, mindshare and significance in the marketplace. Firefox adoption is growing constantly, and quite dramatically in specific locales. Our momentum has not slowed, despite the introduction of new browsers.

To be clear, I’d feel even better if we are at 30% worldwide. I’d feel ecstatic in fact. And ecstatic is where I want to be. 🙂 There’s still nothing magical that I know of about a 30% number, but it still feels like a number where we can be confident we can influence the quality of Internet life. We’re doing this today as we work our way to and beyond 30% — I’m eager to do more.

Some may see this in a different way, along the lines of: they set a number, they may not reach it by summer ’08, and that means failure. That’s an easy, black-and-white view, and it makes for great headlines. But it’s simplistic. That type of interpretation could be correct IF we had ever believed that the 30% number was special — that for some reason 28 or 29% meant one thing and 30% or 31% meant another. In some settings a number like 30% may well be the switch, where yes turns to no, or no turns to yes. That’s not our world. We knew 30% wasn’t magic; we said so in the goal itself: “30% not intended as absolutist or maximum target”.

3. Diversify browsing focus beyond Firefox today. Why? To increase innovation, improve user experience for new activities people do through the browser (e.g., creating and sharing content)

  • New add-ons, new types of add-ons, “official” extension packs, etc.
  • “.moz” services integration idea to improve the Firefox experience
  • Innovation and experimentation through the Mozilla Labs program
  • Increasing participation (making it easy to engage in)
  • “Expanded” browsing activities such as generating (standards-based) content, sharing content, and collaborating
  • This is not limited to “front-end” work; it includes the platform as well

Background: This was our marker to make sure we’re looking to the future. Internet life is changing as new capabilities appear online. We need to be relevant in these new areas to continue moving the Internet towards our goals.

Evaluation: We’re doing this. The initial steps of launching, understanding, and funding a set of critical new initiatives are done. We don’t yet have new end user product offerings for these areas; that work is in progress. We can’t claim that our impact in these other areas is of the scope of that of Firefox, but that wasn’t the goal. As in the first goal, we’ve used the examples as precisely that — examples of the kinds of things that could move the goal forward. We’ve focused on some but not all of them, and added others. Here’s what we’ve done:

  • Created a new team, new focus, new organization, and revitalized community participation and development for Thunderbird and Internet communications
  • Launched a serious mobile effort, created a team for the mobile work, done the platform performance and memory work to make it feasible now, developed prototypes and become an active part of the mobile discussion
  • Created Mozilla Labs as the home for experimentation, giving us a place to design and prototype
  • Started to deal with data, and doing so in a Mozilla way through Mozilla Labs
  • Launched exploration of deep integration of the browser and online services through the Weave project


The last two years have been extraordinary. Two years ago we were looking at at giant opportunity created by years of hard work combined with some good fortune. Today that opportunity is much larger. The scope has grown. The scale has grown. The breadth and depth of Mozilla contributors has grown. The responsibilities have grown. We should celebrate and marvel and be proud and feel honored.

We shouldn’t get cocky or spend too much time patting ourselves on the back. The challenges before us are real. The allure of closed systems is not gone. Some create closed systems because of the economic advantages of controlling a part of the Internet; some are drawn by the desire to control, some drawn unconsciously by good tools and seemingly simple, safe choices.

In the next few years we need to push hard to make sure new capabilities are developed in and for the open web, not limited to proprietary parts of the web. We need to continue to create the products people need for accessing the Internet. We need to use our voice to make open, transparent and participation ever more deeply engrained in the fabric of the web.

It’s time to identify the next big multi-year milestones: what can we do with our products and technologies to move the Internet towards a more open, participation environment? I’ll make some suggestions soon. In the meantime, ideas, proposals, thoughts are more than welcome.

“Summer 2008” Goals

May 14th, 2008

As we approach the release of Firefox 3, it’s time to focus even more on the future. What can we do with our products and our community-based processes that moves the Internet further toward our vision? The release of Firefox 3 is a giant step forward, bringing improvements in almost every area that the browser touches. We’ll do more releases of Firefox, as there is plenty of room for innovation left. But it is not enough to think of our future in terms of Firefox and Thunderbird releases.

We should ask the bigger questions: how do we use our products and product development cycle to improve overall life on the Internet over the next few years? What can we do that moves the Internet towards our vision?

It’s a broad question. That’s a mark of success, and reflects the size of the opportunity before us. It’s also easy to imagine how a discussion could be interesting but fail to result in good goals. “Good” goals need to be broad enough to be meaningful over several years and yet formed enough to motivate action and lead to concrete tasks. Maybe we should think as far forward as the next ten years. But at the least we should think of the next two or three years.

We have some experience in doing this. Just about two years ago Mozilla employees spent some time figuring out what we would like to accomplish over an approximately two year period ending in mid 2008. Those goals became known as “Summer 2008 Goals.” This was an early attempt attempt to create long term goals and it wasn’t a public process. At the time it was hard enough to have this discussion even among the set of Mozilla employees. We were just learning how to talk about goals bigger than “fix these bugs for this release.” It required a change of mindset, longer term thinking and a bit of audacity to set difficult stretch goals. This time we’ll look at long term goals as a community process, involving the broad set of people who are critical to making our products great.

The Summer 2008 Goals are a good set of goals. They are good in their scope and good in expressing big ideas rather than specifying implementation plans. And even better, they were forward-looking goals when we set them and provide a means for evaluating the scope of the progress we’ve made to date. On the other hand, these goals aren’t measurement tools. Anyone looking for specificity will be disappointed. They are directional goals. They are intended to describe the kind and scope of accomplishment we wanted to see.

Broad aspirational goals are a good starting point because Mozilla as a project needs to motivate many thousands of people (tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, actually) to move in the same general direction, most of whom aren’t full time, aren’t employees and may not even be known personally to the project leadership. We won’t know and don’t seek to control all the things people will do that make us more successful. Articulating a broad, commonly shared set of aspirations helps many disparate groups of people organize themselves and work towards very practical, concrete tasks that make our aspirations real. Sometime during the summer of 2008 I’d like to have a good draft of our goals for how we want to promote the Mozilla vision of the Internet through our products during the next few years.

In my next post I’ll look at the Summer ’08 goals and what we’ve accomplished over the last couple of years.

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