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Mozilla Launches Open-Source Marketing Campaign

By John P. Mello Jr.
Oct 20, 2004 8:53 AM PT

You've heard of open-source software. Now meet open-source marketing.

Mozilla Launches Open-Source Marketing Campaign

The Mozilla Foundation launched a fund-raising campaign yesterday to pad its coffers for a marketing campaign to be kicked off in conjunction with the release of version 1.0 of its Firefox Web browser scheduled for Nov. 9.

According to foundation spokesperson Bart Decrem, in the first nine hours of the drive some 1,300 people contributed US$30 or more to the campaign, which is more than half of the organization's goal of 2,500 participants.

"I'm amazed by the response and enthusiasm of the community," he told LinuxInsider. "It reflects the momentum of Firefox and the sense of community and excitement people feel around our product."

Five Million Downloads

That momentum reached a milestone on Monday when downloads of Firefox cracked the 5 million mark.

The foundation opened its fund-raising campaign with a splash: a full-page advertisement in the New York Times.

"The New York Times ad campaign is the coming out party for the Spread Firefox Web site, which is really marketing central for the Firefox browser," Decrem declared.

"It's the first of its kind," he said of the site. "It's the first time that we're reaching out to the open-source community and using the principles of open source to spread the word and run a marketing campaign."

Although the marketing push is meant to benefit Firefox, it has potential positives for the whole open-source community.

"I'm sure it will have a residual effect for the community," Russell Nelson, vice president of the Open Source Initiative, said of the campaign.

Aiming at Enterprises

"I would love to think that everyone knows about open source," he told LinuxInsider. "But I'm sure there are people who have not heard about it yet."

"I'm sure there are people who have heard about it from negative comments," he continued. "Microsoft is putting a lot of effort into making sure that everybody hears of open source, although they're trying to make sure everyone hears bad things."

In addition to creating visibility for Firefox among consumers, the campaign could help build its credibility in the corporate world, according to Stephen O'Grady, a senior analyst with Red Monk in Bath, Maine.

He explained that the campaign gives Firefox advocates within a corporate organization some firepower when approaching C-level executives with a pitch to switch.

"If a CEO or CIO has never heard of something, that's a tough sell," he told LinuxInsider. "But if it's something they've seen in the Times, that gives it a measure of credibility."

It also gives the product an "aura of a money-making enterprise," he maintained, which gives the software additional appeal in the executive suites.

Gaining Traction

"Open source tends to scare some enterprises because they don't understand products that they don't purchase," he explained.

"It won't change things overnight," he said of the campaign, "but it will build credibility."

Even without the campaign, Firefox has begun to gain some traction in the corporate realm, he noted, but it is an uphill struggle because many corporate intranet and portal sites within large enterprise sites have been created for Microsoft Internet Explorer.

On IT's Radar Screen

"Among developers, marketing people and PR people -- people who have the flexibility to install applications on their desktop -- I see a lot of traction," he said.

He noted that even in staid industries such as insurance, financial services and health care there's been a surprising uptick in Firefox usage.

"There's been a surprising amount of traction for the browser simply because you can do some things with it that you can't in Internet Explorer," he maintained.

"Adoption within the enterprise is lagging the consumer market, but the interest is certainly there," he said, "and we're getting to the point where it's getting on IT's radar for inclusion."


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What's most likely to cost a company your customer loyalty?
a major product fail
major unethical corporate behavior
public advocacy of social or political views I oppose
a really bad customer service experience
stagnation -- I'm attracted to innovation
none of the above -- I'll stick through thick and thin