Firefox Faces Its Future as It Turns Five

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment.

Cranky geek, John C. Dvorak, cranks the starting handle:

This week marks the fifth anniversary of Mozilla's Firefox browser. ... Any company or product than can achieve that manner of popularity in such a short period of time is clearly a success. ... But the browser's story actually begins in 1998 when the Mozilla foundation was formed. The organization's first browser was release in 2002. Using these milestones as a starting point, Firefox is actually a seven—or 11—year-old product. That's how long it took the browser to hit ... 330 million users.

...

Nearly all open source products to date have been initiated by a small group of near fanatics. Generally speaking, these initiatives are lean operations with none of the marketing, advertising, and public relations functions of a commercial enterprise. ... Until now, open source had the disadvantage of a slower ramp. But all indications are that this has been changing. Within a few short years, it will speed up. Then things will really change. MORE


Cade Metz met a dire warning:

As Firefox pops the champagne on its fifth birthday, one of its founding fathers has warned the world against an interwebs ruled by a certain money-minded tech giant. ... "I look at Google and I don't see a lot of alignment with the big picture of the internet," says Asa Dotzler, the ten-year Mozilla vet who was among the team of three or four who founded the Firefox project back in 2002.

...

The irony, of course, is that Google ads are still propping Mozilla's bottom line. But the organization has revenue deals with multiple search engines, and Dotzler insists that none of them - not even the most lucrative - has an effect on the company's egalitarian mindset. MORE


David Coursey incites mixed feelings:

On its fifth birthday, Firefox must be considered both an incredible success and somewhat of a failure. The open source Web browser is a great product and quite an achievement, but has not tremendously advanced the cause of "free" software. ... You might think Firefox would have encouraged a wave of open source development, but from the perspective of a typical business or home user, it has not happened.

...

Firefox itself is a happy accident. Without the failure of Netscape, we might not have Firefox today. I will spare you the history and realize there will be different interpretations, but the Netscape dream lives on in Firefox. ... That Firefox subsequently became such a persistent thorn in Microsoft's side must bring some comfort to former Netscape partisans. ... [But] the failure of the open source community to turn Firefox's success into something even larger proves open source is over as a major phenomenon in desktop applications. If it ever really was one. MORE


Ryan Paul reminds us of the history:

Firefox emerged as an effort to replace the Mozilla Suite's browser with a lighter alternative based on the same underlying technology. The developers originally called their creation Phoenix. ... The earliest Phoenix binaries were released to the public in 2002 and began to attract serious attention over the course of the following year.

...

It's strange to think back to that time when the mainstream browser features that we take for granted today were first being introduced. Do you remember your first exposure to tabbed browsing and intelligent autocompletion? Many of the things that made Phoenix great in its early days have been reimagined in recent releases and continue to be an important part of the browsing experience. For example, the autocompletion feature ... has become the aptly-named AwesomeBar. MORE


H0p313ss thinks different:

I have long argued that the role of OSS isn't necessarily to take over the world but to make it a better place by doing things better for free than most companies do for profit. (Sort of like the NDP party in Canada, they'll never run the country because every time they have a good idea the Liberals take it, implement it and claim it as their own.). MORE


John Hartnup agrees:

I remember in the days of Windows 3.1, it seemed like a big deal that you could change IP address on Linux without rebooting. Once a few thousand geeks realised there was nothing inherent about the PC platform that prevented things like this, and memory protection, pre-emptive multitasking etc., there was a strong market incentive for Windows to improve.

I don't think Windows would be as good as it is today if it weren't for competition from Linux. I'm sure MSIE would be far, far worse if it weren't for Firefox. (Yes, yes, OK, Opera. But for years Opera cost money.) MORE

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