What’s next for Firefox advocacy?

Photoshop Tennis for SFX Theme with JoshI can’t help but notice that not much has happened with Spread Firefox since I left, even though my good friend Jamey continues to feed me mockups and possible redesigns of the site (note: the photo at right isn’t Jamey’s work but an early redesign attempt between me and Josh Jarmin).

And though the Firefox Flicks Campaign was a considerable success, it didn’t seem to arouse the same kind of passionate support that the New York Times ad campaign did in its time (though it did drive a considerable amount of traffic). It seemed isolated and somewhat self-congratulatory… preaching to an audience that was already aware of and promoting the open source browser, rather than those who wouldn’t be able to separate the “Internet” from “MySpace” from “the blue E”.

And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a criticism so much as something I’ve been stewing on for some time, trying to figure out, y’know, what comes next?

When I was at (and I continue to champion this idea mind you) I wanted Flock and Firefox to team up — to work together to show their collective usefulness across a wider and more diverse community — one that a single browser simply wouldn’t be able to appeal to as effectively as two designed with different intents. In fact, with Internet Explorer 7 on the horizon, incorporating many of the features that have set Firefox apart, I wonder whether either Flock or Firefox will have much of a chance at widespread adoption without a concerted effort to spell out more clearly the benefits of both platforms — and how developers can leverage their work across both simulataneously.

This is the challenge as it stands and as I see it. As the features that formerly set Firefox apart become standard fare in modern browsers, one way to form the question is to consider whether Firefox has served its purpose — causing Redmond to wake up and to change its flagship browser. If so, then ok, keep building it out and improving it, but tell the fans that they can go home until next season.

If the fight or the battle or the … non-violent conflict … is only beginning, then I guess I’d like to see a clear declaration of intentions. I’d like to see Mozilla stand up and declare the principles, ideas, dreams and ambitions that set it apart and keep its proponents up at night, dreaming of ways to get the story out there to an ever-widening audience. Anything less, and the juggernaut will bowl us over, diminishing the effects of the incredible achievements that have been made in the past two years. I’m looking at this as a ten-year struggle — as a hugely powerful Hydra that must be faced on each branch, what I’m talking about is the future of the web and the tools that we will use to navigate, explore, publish and own it with. In order to stay in the game and continue to participate in the conversation (or ever set the tone), we need a strategy, we need a plan, we need people and we ought get started now.

I’m open for ideas, have a few of my own, but mostly just want to know: What’s next for Firefox advocacy?

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: Molly.com (YC W18), Uber, Google.

3 thoughts on “What’s next for Firefox advocacy?”

  1. As a supporter of the NY Times Ad and contributor to Firefox Flicks, I’ve been wondering the exact same thing. The mighty charge to the top of the hill seems to be over. The flicks campaign really did feel like preaching to the choir.

    Meanwhile, Firefox continues to spread like wildfire. Nearing 200 million downloads, it’s reaching a point of market penetration that IE7 may not have a chance of beating, even bundled into Vista.

    Perhaps is just that we’ve won in so many ways, we’re not sure what the next battle is. Perhaps it’s that we’re arrogant enough to believe that people won’t slip back to IE once 7 finally fixes the biggest bugs. Perhaps is that now that the competition has aped our best stuff, we don’t actually know if we’re better.

    As a user, the thing that will keep me on firefox for the forseeable future is the easy extensibility. The first thing I do after downloading is install adblock plus, filterset G, the web developer plugin, and forecast fox. I’m sure every other power-user has a different set of favorite plugins and extensions. For microsoft to compete with that, they’ll need an open API for extending their browser and a community of developers.

    Being truly cross platform will help us. Supporting windows 2000 (and earlier, something IE7 is NOT expected to do) will help us. Vista’s slipping ship date will help us. We’re certainly not out of this race by any means, but I wonder, like you… What’s next. How can we bring firefox behind the corporate firewalls, where IE6 lives undisturbed?

    Should the next spread firefox initiative be a call for users to spread the word inside their companies? If we were to provide sharp marketing materials for IT managers and decision makers coupled with well tested enterprise deployment and managment tools, could we really dig in in corporate networks?

    Lots to think about… I’m still wrapping my head around where flock fits in in all of this. I know it has a place, but as a once-or-two-times-a-day blogger, it really needs to be more tightly integrated with my firefox settings, history, bookmarks, etc. If I could swap back and forth between firefox and flock like different skins of the same browser, I would be a very happy camper.


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