This is regarding John Lilly’s (COO of Mozilla) recent blog entry about something Steve Jobs said at Apple’s WWDC07. During the WWDC keynote, Jobs showed a slide that suggested Apple’s Safari would replace all web browsers expect Microsoft’s.
Why did Jobs think most (or all) of Safari’s market share would come at the expense of Firefox? Well, there’s no way Apple could show a slide without Microsoft (too large an entrenched base because they’re the default). Further, it’s reasonable to assume the bulk of Safari’s market will come from non-Microsoft browser users. After all, these users have already shown the knowledge, desire, and ability to switch. Still, all of them? That’s a bit of a pipe dream, and certainly not realistic.
So I can understand why Lilly would take exception to it. However, his response was important; Mozilla will be judged as much by how they react to this slide than for Apple showing it in the first place. Unfortunately, in my opinion his reaction was as wrong as it could be.
Apple handed Mozilla, on a silver platter and with ribbons and bows, a clear chance to explain why, in their view, that slide will never comes to pass. It’s simply because of how great Firefox is. This was a golden opportunity, and the perfect stage from which to tout all the great things that their user base already knows but many Microsoft browser users may not. Fast. Incredibly customizable. Stable. Open standards. Highly compliant. Secure. Smart and knowledgeable user base. Award winning. Huge base of themes and extensions easily browsed, installed, and managed right from within Firefox. And more. Then, Mozilla could have topped it all off discussing their version 3.0 and what’s in store for the future.
But they didn’t do that. Apparently unable to sell their own product, Lilly’s blog spouted a form of attack and pseudo-FUD that is actually kind of silly. So it starts:
“Every so often though, as inspired as he is, [Steve Jobs] says something that betrays at best a blurry view of the real world, at worst an explicit intent to bring more of the world under directed control from Cupertino, and that happened Monday”
Yes, the leader of the company whose browser is every bit as standards-based and compliant as yours (more so if you consider display of color images) wants the the world “under direct control from Cupertino”. Did Lilly really write that? Apple refuses to join the low-end disposable PC market though it would increase their share considerably. They refuse to license Mac OS X though it would certainly do the same. They recently began dropping DRM from their online music, allowing files to be played on a myriad of non-Apple devices. And yet you’re sure they want the world “under direct control”. Please.
“First, it isn’t really how the world is. The meteoric rise of Wikipedia, Creative Commons, Linux and Firefox, among many other examples, shows that today’s connected world is no longer constrained by the monopolies and duopolies and cartels of yesterday’s distribution — of the publishers, studios, and OS vendors. Hundreds of millions of users, in every language around the world are now making new choices. That Apple doesn’t feel this, even within the familiar reality-distortion-field confines of Moscone Center, illustrates much of the problem.”
Monopoly wasn’t enough, he had to reach into the bag and grab ‘duopoly’? Well, of course he did, otherwise he’d just be talking about Microsoft, wouldn’t he? Did it never occur to Lilly that right now, with over 93 percent of the browser market, Microsoft and Mozilla are the duopoly? I guess duopolies are OK if you’re one of the two.
And thanks for explaining to Jobs how the world is. I’m sure he’ll take the lesson to heart, since his current reign at Apple clearly shows he doesn’t have a clue. In fact, he’s probably got his people looking into “Wikipedia, Creative Commons, Linux and Firefox” right now, having never heard of them.
Seriously, I can’t tell if Lilly believes what he wrote or is simply hoping impressionable 16-23 year olds will panic at the cries of ‘Apple Über Alles’ and run into Firefox’s arms.
Yes, it is a different world, and Jobs knows it well. He knows that the very people who dropped Internet Explorer for Firefox will also drop that if there’s something better. I’ll bet he also knows that cries of a “world of tight control from a few companies” is a lot of hooey when used to describe the entry of yet another browser for Windows.
Mozilla really should have tried selling their product. Maybe they don’t think it can compete? As a big-time Firefox user I disagree, but am impressed with Safari beta on Windows XP so far. It definitely has issues, but is pretty darn good for a product released only five days ago.
Forget the political blog posts, Mozilla. You should work on either selling your product, or improving it, or both.