Firefox

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= open source browser

Description

“Tuesday, the answer to IE arrived: a safe, free, fast, simple and compatible browser called Mozilla Firefox. Firefox (available for Win 98 or newer, Mac OS X and Linux at www.mozilla.org) is an unlikely rival, developed by a small nonprofit group with extensive volunteer help. Its code dates to Netscape and its open-source successor, Mozilla, but in the two years since Firefox debuted as a minimal, browser-only offshoot of those sprawling suites, it has grown into a remarkable product. Firefox displays an elegant simplicity within and without." (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/19/business/yourmoney/19digi.html?th)


Status

Current Developments

"where Mozilla is putting its resources. What are its big, strategic bets?

The first order of business for Mozilla, John suggested, will be to continue to orchestrate a better browser. The steps beyond the "vanilla browser" experience primarily involve Weave, mobile, Firefox as a platform, and Statistics. These are the four that John thinks about a lot.


What are they?


  • Weave. Think "cloud" services to the browser. It's similar to Adobe's AIR in blending the desktop experience with Internet-based services.


  • Statistics. Given Mozilla's spread of customers, it could do an opt-in ComScore/Nielsen-type service. Even a low hit rate with its users would result in much better information for Operations than these other services provide. Mozilla recognizes that it must shepherd customer information carefully, but believes that allowing customers to determine how much information to share is the right model, and will provide plenty of data.


  • Mobile. I actually first discussed mobile with John years ago when he started and I was considering building an open-source mobile start-up. Not much has happened with Firefox and mobile since that day but John and Mike argue that things have changed to make a mobile browser viable. While the carriers used to control virtually everything that was installed on their phones, Apple is forcing them to open up.


Importantly, Firefox's mobile efforts have caught the attention of Nokia and other industry heavies, which are stepping up as significant code contributors. As the web blurs between desktop and mobile, mobile Firefox will be ever more important.


  • Mozilla as a platform. The items already discussed above suggest ways in which Firefox can function as a platform for Web innovation, but the possibilities are much, much broader. My browser knows (or could know) how I spend my money, where I spend my time, who I like, etc. Would I allow--indeed, beg--Firefox to collect information on these things in order to provide me more tailored advertising, social networking, etc.? Absolutely. The key is user control of her data."

(http://www.cnet.com/8301-13505_1-9893479-16.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20)


Discussion

Community aspects of Firefox browser

"John argues that the Firefox platform is actually more robust and easier to use than "rival" platforms like Facebook, iPhone, etc. Unlike these others, Firefox is a true community platform, reflecting the tastes, requirements, and whims of a broad array of users. It plays host to a wide array of third-party plug-ins.

But the community angle doesn't end with plug-ins. 40 percent of the Firefox code wasn't written by Mozilla. This has stayed constant as Mozilla has grown. This is exceptionally impressive when you consider that Firefox is 6 million lines of code.

This community input is demonstrated by the last launch of Firefox. It came out of the gate localized into 37 languages. Mozilla wrote one of those, the English language version. By comparison, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 launched only in English, despite having far more internal resources.

Still another way to look at it is through its quality assurance program. Mozilla employs a few people (8 to 10) internally to focus on QA, but 10,000-plus people download and install its nightly builds. The feedback from this community is immediate and very pointed: "You broke Thai on X page," etc. Mike noted, "It's a little bit unnerving at times," but it's also a significant indicator of the "outside" buy-in that Mozilla garners.

Clearly, Firefox has the community." (http://www.cnet.com/8301-13505_1-9893479-16.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20)


Commercial Aspects

Commentary by CNet at http://www.cnet.com/8301-13505_1-9893479-16.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20

More Information

  1. Mozilla Foundation
  2. Mozilla Corporation