Archive for April, 2013

The Future of Mozilla: Fast Second Follow

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

No one wants to be a follower. Except Mozilla.

Mozilla rarely moves the consumer needle with its own inventions. Rather, the company is at its best — and its best is revolutionary — when it takes an existing product and re-envisions it as a public benefit product, where the people making have a top-down directive to never include revenue as part of a decision making process.

Mozilla, a nonprofit, must capitalize on its record of fast-second-follow success, identifying products that have already found consumer traction and then remaking them Mozilla-style.

Five years ago, I joined Mozilla as part of an aqui-hire. I was a founding member of Mozilla Labs, and served as creative lead during the Firefox 4 release. While I am no longer on the paid staff, I carry Mozilla DNA and often find myself reiterating Mozilla mantras. Safe to say, any critique I offer here is not meant as a slight; every company has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to know how to play to those fortes. “Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia”, noveslist C.S. Lewis famously wrote. And, so it goes in open-source projects: Once a contributor to Mozilla, always a contributor to Mozilla.

When Firefox debuted in 2002, Microsoft had all but abandoned its Internet Explorer development team. By streamlining and improving an existing product, Mozilla revitalized the stagnating browser space to protect the most important shared resource of our times. Today, the space is intensely competitive, with browsers from Apple, Google, and Microsoft each vying to be the fastest, most capable and most compliant. The majority of web now surfs on open-source browsers. That’s a huge Mozilla victory, and a huge victory for the open web.