November 21, 2004
FireFox Fans Speak Up & Show Up
Mozilla seems to be gaining momentum following the official launch of FireFox 1.0 last week, an alternative Web browser to Internet Explorer. It has since attracted 8 million users, or rather, 8 million downloads since they rolled it out.
I was invited to a FireFox launch party tonight at the Wish Bar & Lounge by an industry friend. It was a geekfest. Where else do you go to a dark lounge with red lights on a Saturday night and find a guest sitting against the wall with his laptop open. Alone. He wasn't even giving a demo. Is this how I'm going to spend my Saturday nights in San Francisco?
It's hard to imagine, but there is actually a website dedicated to alerting its fans about local FireFox parties in various cities around the world. There are links to each country at the bottom of the home page.
Why so much attention?
I think there's several reasons, but I don't think its the security issue as WSJ's Walt Mossberg recent article draws attention to, although perhaps it probably should be.
From a consumer's perspective, think about what's happening in the industry. And in the country. There's the divide between the blues and the reds. (some might say the intellectual, creative, cultural and peace loving versus the sheep leading the blind, global aggressors, farming bible belt).
Kinda like the divide between the creative innovators versus corporate America, i.e., Microsoft, stifling growth and explosive development beyond Redmond's walls.
Kinda like the open source community (note the word community) versus what's handed to us to use and conform to. Tools and venues that build communities are increasingly popular right now (i.e., Flickr, Friendster, etc.)
Hell, is the hunger for building an "alternative" community that surprising in a country that's politically divided, nervous about the economy and future terrorist attacks, not to mention a long drawn out war in a country they can't understand or know where to find on a map.
So while Mossberg plugs FireFox in his piece on "How to Protect Yourself From Vandals, Viruses If You Use Windows," I think the real draw is the innovation from developers in its "open source" environment, the ongoing creative contributions from this community, and the fact that FireFox is an underdog trying making innovative progress against Microsoft.
Firefox's features include tabbed browsing for viewing multiple Web pages in one window, Live Bookmarks for viewing RSS feeds and pop-up blocking.
Are they a success? It's too early to tell, but they're hoping for a 10% share of the market.
Beyond the programmer with his laptop open and geeks discussing bug fixes, what I found most amusing was the presence of San Jose Mercury News business reporter K. Oanh Ha.
I have worked with reporters for nearly twenty years and still found her interest in FireFox's popularity refreshing. She typically writes about the convergence and impact of technology on culture. Like blogging, FireFox fits right in. Her article should be out on Monday or the following Monday, or the one after that......you know how these things go.
It was tough to find her a "real consumer" among this bunch, although hell, I'm probably pretty close. Look at how long it took me to figure out what a "trackback" was and I still don't find it easy to do. Hmmmm, maybe a better example is how long it took me to figure out how to use my digital camera and cell phone.
Of course the blog community loves FireFox for various reasons, including its flexibility and support for RSS.
A programmer who fixed a major security bug was running around in a Mozilla t-shirt serving crackers with blue cream cheese. And someone baked chocolate chip cookies with Mozilla lettering on them.
The real geek circle was a small group of developers at the bar who came up with a silly business card game. Don't ask me the rules. Between a strong British accent and a helluva lot of beer, it was hard to make out what they were. Photos may possibly be posted at this website in the next few days.
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photos are here...
Posted by: ben | Nov 21, 2004 10:15:10 AM
Heh. Thanks for getting a picture of me holding the crackers. Unfortunately, I didn't fix the security bug. I only found it.
Posted by: Alex VIncent | Nov 22, 2004 1:17:47 AM
It was indeed a geekfest.
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