Firefox Needs To Go To School

    August 10, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Retention rates for usage of the Firefox browser have caused concern for the Mozilla Foundation. They’re brainstorming ways of improving that rate. We’ve got a suggestion for them.

Mozilla has posted a retention plan at the Mozilla wiki, and discussed their need to hit market share goals. Keeping Firefox downloaders as regular Firefox users has been a challenge:

Currently, approximately 50% of the people who download Firefox actually try it and about 50% of those people continue to use it actively. This presents an incredible opportunity for us.

We’ll agree that the opportunity exists. But we also think Mozilla could be ignoring a demographic that will take longer to payoff in market share.

It isn’t just grownups, the normal non-tech-absorbed person, who looks at a typical PC desktop and thinks the blue E symbolizing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer equals the Internet. ZDNet’s Larry Dignan thinks IE has that thought process cornered.

We see his point, but respectfully disagree with any suggestion that it always has to be this way. Mozilla needs to target the most inquisitive, adaptable demographic with their efforts. Kids who work on computers in school each day have the "E = Internet" lesson reinforced.

A friendly Firefox logo can help, but Mozilla needs to do more. TV commercials just won’t cut it. The organization needs to figure out how it can reach elementary schools with their message.

It could be an uphill battle. As states make use of the Internet to provide access to class-related applications or tests for students, there’s a danger these applications have been crafted to be IE-friendly only.

Without the kids, Mozilla will just see another generation of grownups double-clicking the E, possibly trying Firefox, but switching back to the more familiar IE.

Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler tells WebProNews the marketing aspects of their Retention Plan go well beyond just one strategy. He also reaffirmed the commitment to continually building a better Firefox.

"I’d like to point out that getting 500,000 people to download your product every single day is, in itself, a pretty amazing marketing feat," said Dotzler. "I’d challenge anyone in the tech press to find another piece of software that’s achieved that kind of reach for a product whose main competitor is already sitting on the user’s desktop."

UPDATE: Matt Asay of open source CMS maker Alfresco expands on the topic of Mozilla and growth in his post, "Why capitalist pigs would be good for Mozilla."