Archive for July, 2009

1,000,000,000: That’s a Lot of Zeros!

July 31st, 2009

In the early 2000’s about a million people would download a release of the Mozilla Application Suite, which was our product offering before Firefox and Thunderbird. We were extremely proud of this number. For 2000 or 2001 it was a very surprising number, quite large for an open-source consumer product. It was a tiny number compared to IE of course, and that product never cracked the barrier into general consumer awareness or adoption. But everyone who heard that number was astonished. In fact, that million-a-release download number helped us obtain some early support when we formed the Mozilla Foundation a couple of years later.

With Firefox, we had a million downloads well before the product reached a 1.0 phase — something like 3 million people were using Firefox as we came up to the 1.0 release in the fall of 2004. That’s partly how we sensed we had something big on our hands during the long summer of 2004 trying to finish the 1.0 version.

Today we crossed the billion download mark for Firefox. That’s an astonishing number. It reflects both the popularity of Firefox and the enormous growth of the web. The latter — the growth of the Internet — is not so surprising. The Internet is a fundamental tool for human interaction, it will grow for a while yet. The Firefox number is something else. Born of the impossible, coming into existence because it had to be, from a small band of seemingly outdated browser-centric dreamers to hundreds of millions of people.


Browser Ballot for Windows in Europe

July 24th, 2009

Microsoft and the European Commission have announced they are discussing a proposal for Microsoft to include a browser ballet in European versions of the Windows operating system. The ballot approach has many positive possibilities. However, the precise implementation will determine if the ballot approach is likely to be a useful remedy. For example:

  • Does the ballot apply to the copies of Windows that go through the “OEM channel” (approximately 95%) and are installed by the OEMS on computers when people buy them?
  • Will Microsoft’s update service present this ballot choice to people who already have PCs ?
  • Microsoft’s statement says their proposal will allow people to  “easily install competing browsers from the Web.” It’s not clear yet if the user can set another browser as the default browser — that is, the browser that opens up when one selects a URL. If the ballot screen doesn’t allow one to make something other than IE the default then the so-called “remedy” looks pretty flimsy.
  • Can Microsoft impose terms and requirements on products or providers listed in the ballot?

The answers to these types of questions will have a huge impact on the number of consumers who actually see a choice.

It is also critical that Microsoft respect the choice of people once they have chosen other browsers, and that neither Windows nor IE nor the Windows update system are used as tools to undo the choice of another browser. We would like to see a commitment to respecting these choices as well.

Eyeballs with Wallets

July 21st, 2009

Here’s the business approach of the then-current CEO of a very well-known Internet company. (He’s gone now.)

  • get eyeballs looking at my site
  • find or create content that keeps them at my site as long as possible
  • monetize them as much as possible while they’re there

There are times when each of us will be happy to be a pair of eyeballs with a wallet attached, to be a “monitizable unit.” In our physical lives this is a little like going to the mall. I may “window-shop” and I may enjoy a comfortable environment. But there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the point of the mall is to for people to purchase things.

There are times, however, when being a wallet attached to eyeballs is not enough. The possibilities available to us online should be broader, just as they are in the physical world. Sometimes we choose to skip the mall and go to the library, or the town square or the park or the museum or the playground or the school. Sometimes we choose activities that are not about consumption, but are about learning and creation and improving the environment around us.

We have public spaces for these activities in our physical lives. We have public assets, and the idea of building some part of our infrastructure for public benefit as a necessary complement to private economic activity.

Mozilla strives to bring this public aspect, this sense of compete human beings, the goal of enriching the full range of human activities to the Internet. We envision a world where the Internet is built to support these varied aspects of the human experience; a world where robust economic activity lives alongside vibrant social, civic and individual enrichment.

We’re building this world so that we can all live in it.

I Am Not A Number

July 13th, 2009

What’s the most interesting thing about the Internet today? To me, it’s not an application, it’s not a technology, it’s not a characteristic like “social.” The most interesting thing about the Internet is me. My experiences. And you. And your experiences.

I can name a set of applications that are important to me today. Tomorrow and next month and next year that set will be different. The things I want to do will be different. The types of information I want to access and share will vary. I will want to integrate some information across all the applications and sites I access. I will want to maintain some information under my control and share subsets of it selectively with Web applications. I’ll want to be able to access a website or its information with a very precise and rich identity, so the site delivers a highly personalized response. Other times I’ll want a general identity or anonymity so I see information which I can filter for myself.

In other words, I don’t want to be the invisible part of my life. Not in my physical life and not in my online life. I want to have a presence that is me. That presence won’t be a pre-existing Web application. It won’t be a number or an identity managed by a Web application. That presence will be an odd collection of information and approaches and unexpected connections that is the online manifestation of who I am. It will be idiosyncratic, it will be flawed, but it will be me.

Time Change for Project – Wide Weekly Status Meeting

July 6th, 2009

Starting today, July 6: 11 a.m. Pacific time is the new time for the weekly Monday project-wide status meeting.

We’re moving the meeting two hours earlier in the day to make it easier for European contributors in particular to participate. It still isn’t perfect, especially in Asia, but we haven’t magically found a time that works in all time zones.

This is the first change to the time of this meeting we’ve made in at least a decade. We’ve been meeting at 1 p.m. Pacific time since was tiny, many of us were employed by Netscape and long before we had even started developing the products we know today as Firefox and Thunderbird. In fact, we set this time when SeaMonkey (officially released in June 2002 as the “Mozilla Application Suite 1.0” or “Mozilla 1.0”) was still years in the future.

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