back to article Note to Mozilla: We don't get the Firefox billboards

Although people often contribute to charities because "it's the right thing to do," they rarely give to businesses on this basis. That's why it's strange to see industries turn to "guilt trips as business models," as GigaOm's Matthew Ingram terms newspapers' recent business-model experiments. The news media and its apologists …

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Happy

Perhaps you misunderstood "good"

There are two versions of good. One of them makes the world a better place. It's the one you were thinking of. The other is actually doing a good job at something, like for instance getting HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. right, instead of either wrong, or not at all. I think perhaps you read too much into the ad, and forgot that browsers are not just categorised in terms of fast and secure, but also in terms of "is it actually any good at being a web browser".

Understandable mistake, certainly worth a livejournal rant, not sure if worth register article =)

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Headmaster

That would be "does well", wouldn't it?

Unless we're going for regionalisms, in which case it should be "But ain't all browsers done good" or some variant thereof.

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Headmaster

I'm good...

... but I'm not saying if that's "Good" as in "Virtuous" or "Good" as in "Proficient"...

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FAIL

Wrong

"Consumers and enterprises just want a fast, secure browser. Firefox happens to offer both."

Wrong. Firefox is by far the slowest of all browsers to launch, has been left behind in JS test even by IE9, and also has the most vulnerabilites in each year for more than half a decade now.

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FAIL

Re: Wrong

"and also has the most vulnerabilites in each year for more than half a decade now"

ITYM "has the most vulnerabilities *found* and *fixed* in each year." Which would you rather have, a proactive team finding, fixing and releasing patches for bugs or a defensive team evading them? Believe me, the latter is more likely to bite you on the arse in the real world.

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FAIL

How fast does an app have to open?

I just stopwatched Firefox 3.3.16 on a 14 month old desktop machine and it took less than half a second to launch. How much faster does it have to get for you to class it as a good browser?

Where's the pointless arsewipe icon when you need one?

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Silver badge

Eh

"Firefox is by far the slowest of all browsers to launch"

Actually, I find it launches in about the same amount of time as Safari (on Windows that is). Depending on your configuration and plugins IE can be just as slow to launch. Granted that's still dog slow to launch, but not 'by far the slowest of all browsers'.

"has been left behind in JS test even by IE9"

That may be true of tests, but based on my own observations Firefox still processes JS much more quickly than IE9 in the real world.

"and also has the most vulnerabilites in each year for more than half a decade now."

It has the most vulnerabilities found, true, but that's not the only measure for measuring security. In fact, taken by itself, it's not even a good measure.

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WTF?

Re: How fast does an app have to open?

3.6.16, Mahatma Coat? Whatever, I'd be willing to bet that most of those who complain about Fx loading times have umpteen add-ons, graphics-heavy personas, huge swathes of unsorted bookmarks, Java, Moonlight, Flash (a-ah!) and about three quarters of an inch of actual Gecko-rendered real-estate between the idiotic toolbars and the status bar. For all we know they could be using a poxy Willamette, too!

This is why this talk of speed is only ever going to be subjective. I have a fixed set of add-ons, customisations and a huge bookmark collection myself. There again, I'm not moaning about how long it takes to load my huge store of crap (two to four seconds from cold with an NFS mounted /home over Gig-E depending on my server's mood, literally picofortnights when it's all cached).

BTW, you people *do* realise that your add-ons, themes, bookmarks and general years of cruft survive across upgrades, right? And if you don't delete old, incompatible add-ons and general shite from before Phoenix Beta [1], Fx loads them on every single cold launch?

Clue: Badly needed.

[1] It's called hyperbole. Look it up.

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Ok, but you forgot something....

Your comparison of business models forgot one item -- Firefox is free to use just like IE, Opera and Chrome. Unlike MS and Oracle going head to head on db product, with price a determining factor that part of the equation is not evident in the browser mix. So when price is off the table and support might only be a minimal factor, what is left but brand awareness?

You might call it guilt. But the browser space is one of those few components of the IT landscape where marketing/brand is probably an equal a factor in browser selection by the average end user as features might. Especially where the differences in feature sets has become minuscule.

Your line of reasoning applies to costed product but I don't think it applies in the browser space.

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Linux

No, IE isn't free

IE isn't free, you have to buy Windows OS to run it.

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Thumb Down

IE free?

I don't know where you got that idea, but to use IE one has to buy a Windows license.

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meh

So-so argument there.

To use ANY browser, you have to buy a computer.

Therefore no browser is free.

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This day in age

you don't even need computers anymore. It's been expanded to include a variety of devices that can fit in your hand, or connect to your television (read: Wii, smartphones, etc.). In which case you're pretty much stuck using one browser (Opera, Android, etc. [with a few exceptions of course]).

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Silver badge

Exactly right

To realize the truth of this all you need to do is drive down I-5, that's "the" 5 to all you SoCal monkeys in the 'hood. Every single person is looking to get one space ahead especially when entering the freeway. It doesn't matter that it causes congestion behind them because they are getting it "for free". Want more proof, look over a few income tax forms, especially mine... to badly paraphrase, GE I think, "money or nothing and your tax is free."

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Anonymous Coward

Except when it isn't.

"News is business."

Except in countries that have nationalised media, of course.

" ... and hope to get it at the lowest possible cost."

Cost to your pocket? Or cost to something larger and more important? The word you're looking for in this context is "ethics" not "morality". And some (many?) people can see the value of that good. Can you really not?

"I doubt if many people will be convinced to use Firefox because it somehow makes the world a better place."

Oh ... I dunno. I seem to recall a big, long argument about standards. I don't recall Firefox losing that argument.

"It's often those industries that find their comfortable business models challenged who turn to morality-based arguments."

Or in the case of the finance industry, anti-morality arguments. But I digress.

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I dunno

Kiva is making a go of it and "investors" are guaranteed to not have a positive return.

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Does Good

Depends on how you interpret the statement "not every browser does good" in your own mind. When I read that statement I think of "good" as a metaphor for "stable" and "Secure" which I wouldn't personally attribute to internet Explorer, and "Compatible" which I wouldn't attribute to either Chrome or Opera.

I do like the business model statements you quoted above. I think more companies than just open source software providers have forgotten these basic truths. Value means everything to the customer. Value is what customers pay for. Video game companies packing their products with ridiculously limiting DRM is what specifically comes to my own mind.

Since Mozilla doesn't sell their software and their business model is based largely on user install base I think this is probably a fairly effective marketing campaign. Consider the alternatives. Should they claim their browser is faster? More secure? When was the last time you actually believed anything at all that came out of the PR department of any corporation? When any company claims their product is better than their competitors I instantly distrust it and I wouldn't be surprised if that were representative of most people's perception of marketing these days.

I kinda like it when a company markets from philosophical or emotional position. "Who wants to pretend their hand is a gun?" - Sony's Move marketing campaign was awesome.

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Boffin

house of straw

The article is based on one big straw man argument.

Ethics, morality and the emotional charge in general are common and crucial for ad campaigns. There is no reason to link any ad campaign directly to a business model in this or any case.

The author is perhaps too young to remember but IBM once revolutionized the IT commercial when they introduced the PC using only imagery of father and son, with nothing being mentioned about the product. It worked very well for the brand establishment in a market out of control.

Family ties and tear jerking are also no business model but it works. The relationship to any 'real' value of the product remains only terse.

A good business model might be to have a good product and make it appear even better, creating a myth with some undefinable 'extra' value around it. Mozilla has gotten it but Matt didn't. Of course his real beef is with the traditional open source revenue model, as if open source ever had one. As others have pointed out Firefox was born in a free browser world with different rules. The IT world is already revolving around service value, not product value since a long time. Mozilla got that right too.

Note to Matt Assay: advertisement is not your forte. Neither business sense.

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Thumb Up

Exactly

What I was going to say. Thanks for saving me the bother!

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Disclaimer: I work for Mozilla

Hi Matt,

I didn't work on producing this brand campaign, but I am aware of some of the thinking behind it and I would challenge your assertion, "The claim that it also "does good" is irrelevant".

I believe that users have a lot more trust in and affinity for the software they are using if they understand that it is being produced by a mission-oriented non-profit organisation, certainly I think that's the case in the Bay Area, where this campaign ran.

Mozilla's organisational model and mission were not things we had made many specific efforts to communicate on a large scale to users previously, and we could hardly be upset therefore when many of our users (indeed, many people who work in the industry) were not aware of them.

But if Mozilla is going to differentiate its own brand, communicating that identity seems rather important. We do not expect users to make a choice based entirely upon that factor (something I'd hope Firefox 4 demonstrates), but we do want them to understand a bit better who they have a relationship with when they use Firefox. I wouldn't characterise this as an attempt to induce guilt.

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Grenade

@Thorfkin

'"Who wants to pretend their hand is a gun?" - Sony's Move marketing campaign was awesome.'

You appear to be confusing philosophy or emotion with cold-hearted marketing spin. Of course, in the real world, that turns out to be: "Who wants to pretend that a plastic stick with a glowing pink ball on the end is a gun?".......

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Anonymous Coward

I don't know about the USA but in the UK

Many people do care about ethics and, for want of a better descriptor "goodness".

Look at the fairtrade movement, the rise of the CoOp (both supermarkets and their ethical banking), the need for companies to demonstrate their green credentials, the increase in popularity of organic products, the huge increase in availability of free-range chickenry and assorted products, and so on if you want some examples.

Similarly there is the on-shoring of call centres and customer services - we are prepared to pay a little extra to be fobbed off by a miserable Scouser or Geordie rather than paying less and getting fobbed off by a cheerful Indian.

Now, I am not saying that we would blindly chose products or companies based on ethical bounds - but we have certainly showed that we do attach a "value" to our purchasing decisions - the trick I think is to set the funding at a level that we are happy with / don't care about (people are happy to pay 59p / 99c for a crap fart app on their phone) and make the means of revenue collection simple and pain-free.

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yes

UK goes to wars when media spin it so people believe it's "for some good". Of course peeps care.

The bloke who wrote this article is out of touch with planet earth or deliberately targeting FF. I like both possibilities.

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whhy

Canonical, why did you let this man go? What a gem, a huge asset for any linux company. Wonder why RH never snatched him.

LOL.

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Gold badge

Why people use Firefox

"I doubt if many people will be convinced to use Firefox because it somehow makes the world a better place."

Au contraire, I suspect that in Firefox's case that is the *main* reason why anyone starts using it. It has a nice add-on model, and if you've already bought into the Linux mindset (probably for the same reason) then it frequently comes as the default browser, but FF's "brand identity" is largely built around the idea that it isn't IE and everyone knows that IE is evil, so FF must be good.

There's standards compliance, but even its most sympathetic users would have to concede that for the first half of the last decade (at least) being "more compliant" than IE frequently counted against it in the real world of "designed for IE" webshites.

Of course, FF isn't a business, so we shouldn't be surprised if it gets to play by different rules.

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Go

What does good?

AdBlock Plus and NoScript do good, and we can thank FireFox for that.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

@Matt

"Mozilla cares deeply about freedom"

But it has deep ties to Google....

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Hmm

Someone has misinterpreted the "good" in the Firefox ad campaign, methinks. Mozilla makes no charitable claims whatsoever.

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Silver badge

Clearly you haven't seen their tax status

"The Mozilla Foundation is a California non-profit corporation exempt from federal income taxation under IRC 501(c)3"

https://donate.mozilla.org/page/contribute/openwebfund

"Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) are commonly referred to as charitable organizations."

http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=96099,00.html

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Clearly

>>> Clearly you haven't seen their tax status

No, I haven't, and I still can't see anything which claims that Mozilla or its browser "does" anything that can be called "good" in the charitable sense, which is the point the article missed - as did you it seems.

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Big Brother

ethics matters for software choices more than ever

Especially software which communicates over a network, and has access to sensitive information I want to have treated with respect. Like what I'm searching for at the moment, where I am, or which web pages I'm interested in, or which articles I'm reading.

Consider the current scandal over the 3 main smart phone architectures and the level of location information they have and where this is communicated:

a. Android stores the last 50 mobile phone mast details and 200 WiFi access point SSIDs, but keeps this data accessible to root only, no reports yet of it being communicated to any party over the network without specific application user consent. Source code openness protects against hidden agendas.

b. Winphone sends all location data to Microsoft. Data not stored on phone. Closed source, so knowledge of this behaviour required reverse engineering and its legality required careful reading of small print. To the extent the medium is the message, closed source equates to a hidden agenda.

c. Iphone stores all historical location data on the phone so a special app can tell you where you have been for as long as you have owned the phone. This was in a closed format, so it had to be reverse engineered.

This demonstrates that the ethics of the organisation which develops and distributes the software and the extent to which this affects engineering practices as well as just marketing matters more than ever before.

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WTF?

business model?

Various organizations offer web browsing software, none of them cost any money. Where does business model come into the decision which one to use? Once you get past features, your choices are corporations A through X, and then Mozilla the non-profit foundation. The mission of Mozilla has nothing to do with business models, or even profit for that matter.

"The claim that it also "does good" is irrelevant"

Maybe to you. To me this makes the decision to use Firefox (w/ Firebug) & Thunderbird even more attractive. More people should be aware of this kind of stuff:

http://www.mozilla.org/about/manifesto.en.html

http://www.mozilla.org/projects/technologies.html

https://mozillalabs.com/projects/

I don't know why you couldn't convince your customer to spend more money on your support services, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Does Mozilla even offer support services, let alone have a profit motive? Your little anecdote seems to hang waaay off the side of your strange problem with Mozilla's recent advertising.

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Clerk

Who cares about the "market"? Mozilla and Firefox were created out of the destruction (by "market" forces) of Netscape by the thieving rotten [illegitimately born persons] at Microsoft. As survivors, and leaders of a new era, they deserve to be supported, financially and morally.

I will continue to use Firefox, no matter what the "market" says. We have learned in the past three years,how wrong we have been to glorify "the market". At least, most of us have, with a few Neanderthals hanging on desperately to a failed ideology. Life is not a "market". Reality is not a "market". Good software does not come from "the market". Good software is produced in opposition to the "market". Fight "the market"!

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Billboards Aside...

Mozilla has lost the college-dropout sex appeal. At some point the community-driven project has been replaced with a number-crunching organization that moves ponderously and doesn't pay much heed to the end user. They've lost friends in the open-source community by jealously guarding the Firefox trunk against experimentation, which caused a number of groups to adopt Chromium and push Firefox into the options tree. It's just bad for business.

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Jobs Horns

So you only buy caged-hen eggs Matt?

Not everyone does.

Thankfully people look beyond pure price/service ratio and ethics play a growing role in decisions.

Egg-head icon.

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WTF?

A Freetard preaching ETHICS!

Try ethics 101:

"I will pay a *fair price* for any products or services I consume."

I realise you don't get it, and never will.

Firefox is simply the result of rich benefactors dumping a so-so product on the market to hurt competitors. Ethics? No-where to be seen.

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Boffin

Paying For Journalism

Here I am, typing a comment on the Web site of a for-profit news provider, considering an article it published involving journalistic business models. This seems somewhat surreal to me.

I must contend journalism is not your basic business. Maybe when troubadors went from town to town singing the news and learning the news, entertainer first and vendor of objective, unbiased reporting (as best anyone could determine) second, it wasn't so special. But as communications technologies evolved and more local news elsewhere became local news locally, the stakes began to rise with the technology. I believe the global majority opinion remains honest news reporting is more important than entertainment. This planet now is finding it more difficult to discern the vendors of honest reporting. The quality of the basic product appears to be watering down everywhere.

News providers seem to think their business models are the problem. I would suggest the quality of their journalistic ethics lies at the heart of the loss of eyeballs. Walter Cronkite was the single most trusted public figure of his time according to many well-respected polls. Where are his peers today? Lord knows we need them--reporters, editors, anchors who are driven to present real news even if Powers That Be object for reasons not serving the public welfare, even if there is potential to hurt ratings. The quality of news reporting was marketable once upon a time. Can it not become so again? None of us have the time to vet everything we must consider. We must have sources we can trust to be ethical, especially when real-time events become very personal.

Fit that into your business model.

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