Journal: News & Comment

Saturday, July 01, 2006
# 4:38:00 PM:

Blake Ross of the Firefox project at Gnomedex

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Blake is going to talk about how Firefox went from zero to 12-15% browser share.

  • Okay, if you think Firefox uses too much memory, we know that, we're not talking about that.
  • There are a couple of misconceptions about it: is it about sticking it to the man (Bill Gates), or liberating the world from proprietary software?
  • No. It's just supposed to be an easy-to-use browser that anyone can work with.
  • It was an open source project for the masses—not just scratching our personal itches.
  • Wanted to do legwork to make a good product AND to get people to use it.
  • What do mom and dad want in their browsing experience?
  • Antisocial developers can't build social software.
  • Can't do much about the fact that Firefox competes with IE.
  • How to motivate earliest users to spread the product?
  • Your persoal experience doesn't improve if your friends use Firefox.
  • Thought they only had a year before Vista and IE7 came out for the spread to happen.
  • Firefox emerged in an open-source culture that, in general, ridicules regular users ("lusers").
  • That culture also doesn't like marketing because of its perceived insincerity and dishonesty.
  • In 2004, the image of Mozilla was revolutionary socialist realism, which didn't really work for mainstream.
  • There were passionate early adopters who weren't developers, whom Firefox needed to bring into the process.
  • Spread Firefox was the result.
  • Now those users feel like part of the project: buttons, clicks, NYT ad.
  • Extensions exist because the basic product doesn't need and shouldn't have those fringe features.
  • They also motivate developers to build things.
  • The legal arrangement to have a profit-oriented subsidiary was necessary because of partnership corporate income etc.
  • How many of the downloads orginated in anti-Microsoft feeling?
  • "Take back the web" was definitely about that.
  • For the last four years, IE6 was stagnating as viruses and spyware were taking over.
  • Don't forget that.
  • How can you trust your Internet experience to a company that abandoned you four years ago?
  • Firefox Flicks had some very popular videos like "Whee!"
  • But those don't convince anyone who isn't already a fan.
  • Dave Winer: you're talking about yourself, not about your users.
  • How is Firefox going to improve to be there in the long term?
  • Could there be a Firefox OS?
  • Not looking to scale up to the size of the IE team.
  • A bit of an argument with Dave Winer, Blake Ross, and Steve Gillmor, but Chris wisely cut it off on time.


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