“We have a serious problem. Whenever I try to pitch Linux to anyone under 30, the question I get is: ‘Will it work with my iPod?,” he said. “We are not yet as a community making the painful compromises need to achieve widespread desktop market share. Until we do, we will get locked out of more hardware.”
Who said it? None other than Cathedral and Bazaar author Eric Raymond. He continues with a warning that the up-and-coming iPod generation [doesn’t] care about our notions of doctrinal purity and that they want their tools and gadgets to just work.
This is something that Firefox enthusiasts must take to heart, for what Raymond is talking about with regards to becoming the 64-bit desktop also applies to our dearly beloved open source browser.
The reality is that most people don’t care (or even know) what browser they’re using. In fact, as IE7 and Safari continue to improve, Firefox 2 is stagnating as a viable commercial product. The harsh truth is that once IE7 is pushed down the auto-update pipes, most people will no longer be incented to try Firefox since IE will once again be just good enough. It won’t matter whether they’re double-clicking the Blue E, a compass or some cute fox as long as they end up on MySpace.
If Firefox wants to continue its upward swing, it needs to continue to innovate and make things faster, easier, simpler and a better overall experience than its competitors. To date, Firefox 2 isn’t offering anything that wows me like something from an Apple product announcement (obviously heavy on the visuals, but stuff like CoreAnimation still rocks for devs). Until the community can answer Raymond’s warning, he may once again be foretelling the future.