Reader Opinion: Mozilla Needs Netscape
Tuesday August 10th, 1999
Eric Murphy, MozillaZine member and regular contributor in our forums, has written an opinion piece on the Netscape/mozilla.org situation. To read it, click Full Article below.
#26 The good, the bad, and...
Wednesday August 11th, 1999 10:18 AM
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Eric, I'd like to thank you for what I'd call a pretty good article. I can't say I agree with all your points (which I'll elaborate on) but regardless, the way in which you got your ideas out on the table is a model for everybody to follow. As everybody knows, as the mozilla 5 browser nears completion, we're nearing a big turning point where input and ideas are absolutely crucial.
That having been said, there are some points of your piece I'd like to pick at, if you don't mind :)
1. You tout the customizable chrome as a big selling point for the browser. I agree in part, but this can't be done blindly. A view I take on the browser in general is, mozilla is so incredibly featureful that marketing can choose different features to push to different organizations. And a case in point is the chrome: when you say that ISPs should be shown the chrome, they need to be told explicitly that they can distribute their own "version" of the mozilla browser with their unique branding, and even their own default start page (which doesn't even have anything to do with chrome). Even if you don't know anything about business, you should know that branding is at the core. And even if you don't know anything about browser users, you should know that a staggering amount of them never change their default start page (which is partially how Netcenter got to be one of the world's highest traffic sites).
2. The public IS as dumb as you think, and dumber. If they can't figure out how to customize their start page, they will assuredly get confused by customizing their browser's look and feel. Again, intelligent marketing is key. Advertise the chrome to users of WinAmp, for example, who are accustomed to the idea of skins. The thing you want to advertise to the majority of the public is not any particular feature, but abstract concepts like "speed" and "reliability"; but even then, marketing to the public won't account for much. Which brings me to...
3. It's business-to-business deals that will be the majority of mozilla's success. You're definitely on to something when you say they should work the education channels and businesses in general. These are the folks you can target, and enamour them of different technical aspects of the browser. Target web design houses, with brochures about CSS compliance and rendering performance. Target large web "communities" such as geocities. Target web application builders. Target everybody, and sell different parts of the browser to them. Even if they don't "buy" the browser in a standard sense, product placement is also very desirable. Hell, sell the thing to movie makers -- everybody wants their computer to look like the ones on the big screen.
4. Finally, some points you have made are already obviously been taken into consideration. AOL is obviously dumping IE for mozilla. Embracing alternate operating systems has certainly been done (XP, anyone?). These are huge steps in the right direction.
Anyway, thanks again, Eric, for an inspirational piece. I sincerely hope more people out there weigh in with their input and ideas. I don't know how Netscape likes the idea of open-source marketing, but I'm sure most of us have at least one good idea to help this cause.