Mozilla Launches Open-Source Marketing Campaign

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

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

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

“I’m amazed by the response and enthusiasm of the community,” he toldLinuxInsider. “It reflects the momentum of Firefox and the sense ofcommunity and excitement people feel around our product.”

Five Million Downloads

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

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

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

“It’s the first of its kind,” he said of the site. “It’s the first time thatwe’re reaching out to the open-source community and using the principles ofopen source to spread the word and run a marketing campaign.”

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

“I’m sure it will have a residual effect for the community,” RussellNelson, 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 toldLinuxInsider. “But I’m sure there are people who have not heard about ityet.”

“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 thateverybody hears of open source, although they’re trying to make sureeveryone hears bad things.”

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

He explained that the campaign gives Firefox advocates within a corporateorganization some firepower when approaching C-level executives with a pitch toswitch.

“If a CEO or CIO has never heard of something, that’s a tough sell,” he toldLinuxInsider. “But if it’s something they’ve seen in the Times, that givesit a measure of credibility.”

It also gives the product an “aura of a money-making enterprise,” hemaintained, which gives the software additional appeal in the executivesuites.

Gaining Traction

“Open source tends to scare some enterprises because they don’t understandproducts that they don’t purchase,” he explained.

“It won’t change things overnight,” he said of the campaign, “but it willbuild credibility.”

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

On IT’s Radar Screen

“Among developers, marketing people and PR people — people who have theflexibility to install applications on their desktop — I see a lot oftraction,” he said.

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

“There’s been a surprising amount of traction for the browser simply becauseyou can do some things with it that you can’t in Internet Explorer,” hemaintained.

“Adoption within the enterprise is lagging the consumer market, but theinterest is certainly there,” he said, “and we’re getting to the point whereit’s getting on IT’s radar for inclusion.”

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