The “messy” version

Well, getting digged makes for an exciting week. 🙂 In case there was any doubt, Digg can drive a lot of traffic. My post about Steve’s view of the browser world has generated a lot of good conversation, and I’m happy it has, even if some of the headlines are more inflammatory than I think the post was, or than I think. There are a ton of great reactions, and the comments on the post are insightful — many that both agree or disagree, and make good, distinct points.

There are a few things I’d like to clear up, though, in as direct a way as I can. (Rather than try to re-state any of the misinterpretations of what I said, I’ll assert my positive views here.)

I like Apple and Apple products. You’ll just have to trust me when I report that we have more Macs in the house than we do people. iPods, too. They’re great.

I think that Steve Jobs has made a ton of positive change in the industry. Design matters again. DRM is dying. And I’ve got all my music in my pocket.

I think that Safari coming to Windows is a good thing. User choice is good. No doubt about it.

I think competition in the browser world is fundamentally a good thing. There is great work being done by browser makers today, in all parts of the world, not just from Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla. Also great stuff like Camino, Opera, OmniWeb, Maxthon, SeaMonkey, Shiira and Flock, not to mention new types of non-traditional browsers like Songbird (for music) and Miro (for Video).

I don’t believe that Firefox deserves anything from anyone, except based on the value we deliver — we need to compete to stay relevant. We need to make Firefox better & better, we need to help people understand why we do what we do. Absolutely, and we’re working hard to do that.

Firefox market share does matter. But maybe not for the reasons you think. The Mozilla mission is to keep the Web open & innovative — that’s our public benefit goal. To get further towards that goal, people have to care about Mozilla, of course, and Firefox market share is an important tool for that at the moment. But it’s not an end in itself. It’s not even really a revenue issue. We’ve figured out reasonable sustainability strategies that don’t rely overmuch on whether our share is 20% or 25%. And we’re investing a lot of time and attention in places like China, where helping the Internet get better is the right thing to do, but won’t result in obvious market share gains (because the Chinese market, and many Asian markets are notoriously undertracked at the moment).

Here’s the main point from my previous point: words and pictures matter. There are two basic possibilities for why Steve’s slides looked the way they looked. The first possibility is that their actual intent is to make this a two browser world on all platforms (well, all the platforms they care about, which would be Windows & OS X). I think that’s not a wonderful strategic goal for them, but the market will decide (like with everything).

The second, more likely possibility is that it was a careless construction of the slides that show a transition from the current world with more than just IE & Safari to a world with exactly two options. That it isn’t what they were trying to say. Oops!

I think that the truth is actually somewhere in between — that as they started to think about how to draw an “after” picture, it was messy. That representing anything like the real world wouldn’t show the impact that Apple wants to have, or the incredible diversity of what’s likely to be the real after picture. It’s much easier to say things in the language of the past — that users can just get their browser from Apple or Microsoft.

But by using mental models and language of the past — a past in which modes of distribution are controlled by a few players with global financial wherewithal — the large companies, the controlling parties are seeking to prolong control. It’s an insidious way of thinking, because often you don’t even realize you’re doing it because it’s not convenient to try to communicate or try to understand a complicated future where it’s not Red against Blue, La Bamba versus La Costena, Coke against Pepsi. And by letting others use these simplified 2 party models, whether intentional or not, we’re all aiding & abetting their dominance, whether it’s good for people or not.

But the world is messy and complicated, and it’s increasingly rare for something to be pure and simple. My friend Diego says that “Web thinking is freedom thinking.” But we have to protect that by calling out efforts to the contrary, whether they’re intentional, accidental, or just because people don’t take the time to draw the messy version of the picture.

14 Replies to “The “messy” version”

  1. Well, that’s notorious that the “Coke vs Pepsi” commercials benefit to both companies. When Coke “attacks” Pepsi they’re actually helping the idea that the choice is between the 2 companies, and other don’t exist. That’s the same idea behind the “Mac or PC” stuff.The user feels he has choice because he has 2 possibilities, but this fake choice is destroying any chance for a third competitor.

  2. Well, that’s notorious that the “Coke vs Pepsi” commercials benefit to both companies. When Coke “attacks” Pepsi they’re actually helping the idea that the choice is between the 2 companies, and other don’t exist. That’s the same idea behind the “Mac or PC” stuff.

    The user feels he has choice because he has 2 possibilities, but this fake choice is destroying any chance for a third competitor.

  3. Choice is good. The best / most appropriate choices come out on top – each one meets the need of an individual.But, I am really surprised how cut and dry Steve J made it appear… an oversight? Unlikely, knowing how rehearsed and immaculate he normally is… so was it measured and predatory? I honestly do not know. A little dissapointing …

  4. Choice is good. The best / most appropriate choices come out on top – each one meets the need of an individual.

    But, I am really surprised how cut and dry Steve J made it appear… an oversight? Unlikely, knowing how rehearsed and immaculate he normally is… so was it measured and predatory? I honestly do not know. A little dissapointing …

  5. I remember when Firefox finally came out of beta and i went around downloading it on all the school computers and trying to get everyone else to switch. Now that I use Macs, Firefox doesn’t see to much use but still some. I hope one day with Mozilla and Apple together can destroy the IE monopoly. If we are lucky, IE wont exist in 10 years 🙂

  6. I remember when Firefox finally came out of beta and i went around downloading it on all the school computers and trying to get everyone else to switch. Now that I use Macs, Firefox doesn’t see to much use but still some. I hope one day with Mozilla and Apple together can destroy the IE monopoly. If we are lucky, IE wont exist in 10 years 🙂

  7. I have never had the oppurtunity to use a mac I have always owned windows . It’s not that I think windows is better it is just what is for sale at more places some of my friends in digital editing classes I have taken have told me a mac is better having never used one I don’t have a opinion

  8. I have never had the oppurtunity to use a mac I have always owned windows . It’s not that I think windows is better it is just what is for sale at more places some of my friends in digital editing classes I have taken have told me a mac is better having never used one I don’t have a opinion

  9. But we have to protect that by calling out efforts to the contrary, whether they’re intentional, accidental, or just because people don’t take the time to draw the messy version of the picture.That’s precisely what I was thinking when I whipped up this silly picture. 🙂

  10. But we have to protect that by calling out efforts to the contrary, whether they’re intentional, accidental, or just because people don’t take the time to draw the messy version of the picture.

    That’s precisely what I was thinking when I whipped up this silly picture. 🙂

  11. Does Firefox Market Share Matter?…John Lilly, Mozilla’s COO, clarifies his stance on Apple’s Safari strategy after his previous missive attracted more attention than expected. (Writing about Steve Jobs is always a great way to pump the ol’ traffic stats.)He hits on a…

  12. Pingback: Peer Pressure
  13. You forgot to mention that Safari is based on Webkit which is an Open Source engine. They reinforced your message that Open Source and standards-compliant is good.You must acknowledge though that FireFox on Mac has issues. It is way too slow. I rarely use it whereas on Windows, I use it regularly. If you really wanted to hit back at Apple, you would make the next version of FF on Mac a true Mac App and not a second class port as it currently is.-Aslam

  14. You forgot to mention that Safari is based on Webkit which is an Open Source engine. They reinforced your message that Open Source and standards-compliant is good.

    You must acknowledge though that FireFox on Mac has issues. It is way too slow. I rarely use it whereas on Windows, I use it regularly. If you really wanted to hit back at Apple, you would make the next version of FF on Mac a true Mac App and not a second class port as it currently is.

    -Aslam

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: