“Everytime I load Firefox on a new computer I think to myself: “Hah, I’m giving it to the man. Sticking him in the back. I’m gonna show him who’s boss.”
Then I remember: I am the man.”
– Robert Scoble, Microsoft evangelist and #1 blogging employee
Firefox 1.5 was released recently, and it pulled in 2 million downloads on its birthday. Even ex-Microserf and Internet Explorer program manager Scott Berkin caved. How is it that other grizzled open source products, including its big brother Mozilla Application Suite, languishes outside of the limelight? It’s just a web browser, after all.
I think it’s the incredible detail placed in developing a clean, intuitive interface design. The masterstrokes are subtle, but everywhere: notice how all the “Clear Data” buttons in the revised Privacy Options panel are all on the bottom right corner, so one can rapidly go through the settings?
And with good reason: Firefox faces an uphill battle. One Forrester analyst quips, “Getting Grandma to switch over from Internet Explorer, which is already installed on her computer, to this open-source thing on the Internet that she needs to find and download, will be hard.” Boing Boing also theorizes most of IE’s marketshare probably stems from homogeneous adoption by corporate IT departments.
But there is one other thing the Mozilla Corporation does so well compared to other FLOSS: marketing chutzpah. I wish FF all the best.
One casualty of progress, however, is my old version of ForecastFox, which was not compatible with Firefox 1.5. I held onto it because of its crappy and accidentally hilarious weather graphics. Just look below for the reason why our household now calls thunderstorms, “It’s raining witchhats!”