Simon Willison’s Weblog


Marketing Firebird

3rd August 2003

Blake Ross has published a page on Marketing Firebird. He makes an interesting comparison between Firebird and Kazaa, pointing out that Kazaa has over 3.1 million downloads a week with promotion only via word-of-mouth:

Kazaa is spreading like wildfire because it offers a killer app—music sharing—and everyone knows it. I have friends that can’t turn on their computer without help, but you’d better believe they’re on there getting songs. I see people coming up with all kinds of clever taglines to promote Firebird (“if you’re not using Firebird, you’re not surfing the web—you’re suffering it”) and that’s great, but the fact is that 100 million users find Internet Explorer “good enough.” The promise of an improved overall experience, without identifying how it improves on a working model, just isn’t going to grab people.

Blake also sets a challenge: Make it your goal to convert five friends, coworkers, family members or other acquaintances to Firebird. I’m happy to say I’ve done that already, but I don’t see it as any reason to stop. I’ve also joined the Mozilla marketing mailing list, which is pretty low traffic at the moment but will hopefully pick up as word about it gets out.

While I’m all for marketing Firebird, there is a pretty big fly in the ointment. If you take a look at the negative reviews on (there are positive ones as well) it seems an awful lot of new users have had their fingers burnt by issues that I’ve never even noticed. If we’ve learnt anything from the original launch of Netscape 6 it should be that a poor first impression lasts, so it’s not worth pushing Firebird at anyone who is likely to write it off the first time it crashes on them. That said, I haven’t had 0.6.1 crash once since I installed it, but it’s still an issue that’s worth baring in mind.

This is Marketing Firebird by Simon Willison, posted on 3rd August 2003.

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