Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Firefox must cross-sell other Open Source desktop apps

Firefox is arguably the most successful Open Source application ever. At the current time, it is estimated that about 15-20% of all desktops worldwide run Firefox. That's an impressive market share. In absolute terms, that means Firefox runs on a couple of hundred million computers, beating even Apache, which has a 58% share of its own market segment.

Other Open Source desktop applications like OpenOffice.org and the GIMP haven't had that level of market penetration, even though they offer excellent quality and value. The main reason is lack of awareness. How many Windows users have heard of these products or have been tempted to try them out? Some advertising and sales promotion are urgently called for.

I would suggest that the Open Source community evolve a common strategy to popularise its products. We can't afford to be disjointed and tactical, fighting battles on a segment by segment basis.

Specifically, our most successful product, Firefox, must advertise and cross-sell OpenOffice.org and the GIMP (or GIMPShop, its Photoshop-like variant). Firefox already cross-sells its sister product Thunderbird, but as a member of the Open Source community, the Mozilla Foundation needs to be more farsighted and (may I say) less parochial.

The page that appears whenever a new version of Firefox is installed should do more than carry version information. It must educate the user with copy like this:
"Congratulations! You have installed the latest version of the Open Source Firefox browser. The features of this version are ...
Would you also like to download these other excellent Open Source applications?

Thunderbird brings you safe, fast, and easy email, with intelligent spam filters, quick message search, and customizable views. Download here

OpenOffice.org is a fully functional office suite with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, drawing tool and personal database. It's designed to be compatible with Microsoft Office and is 100% free! Download here

GIMPShop is an Open Source graphics tool that provides most of the features of Adobe PhotoShop at no cost! Download here"

Winning market share on the Windows platform is a tactical victory, at best. It's as secure in the long term as resting on a crocodile's back. Ultimate victory will only come when the Windows platform is itself replaced by Linux and other Open Source operating systems. The groundwork for that is to get users familiar with what's called "transitional software" that runs on both Windows and Linux.

Imagine a world in which 25% or more of all desktops run Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org and GIMP/GIMPShop. The obstacles to desktop Linux will be drastically reduced when users are already familiar with the major applications on that platform.

I've sent in this suggestion to the Mozilla Foundation. Now the ball's in their court.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Asa Dotzler (Mozilla) answers here
http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2007/01/parochial.html

Anonymous said...

i have to agree with you, on the same level, what they would have down 2 or more years ago was promote them, now the mozilla is just a cliche corparation, ever since they branched off from non profit to non profit and for-profit, i think they started to get "big" heads about market-shares, and staying relevent, what they should do is promote opensource!!

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