The most important product launch of the year is just a few weeks away. It’s a web browser called Firefox– ever heard of it?
The first release candidate for Firefox 3 came out this weekend. The final version is expected to ship next month and it’s a remarkable leap forward. Web browsers are the interface that connects us to the most profound technology of our time, the internet. As browsers change, so does the world. I’ve been using the nightly builds of Firefox 3 for the past several months and it’s easily the best browsing experience I’ve ever had. In addition to being the world’s fastest browser, Firefox has a number of big brilliant improvements and dozens of refinements that make every function feel smoother and easier.
Even with smaller market share than Internet Explorer, Firefox is already the most influential web browser and has almost singlehandedly saved us from an internet experience controlled by Microsoft (sounds implausible? look at what’s happened in South Korea). Instead of that fate, even Internet Explorer is now competing to implement open standards. Firefox fights a huge uphill battle against a pre-installed browser on a near-monopoly operating system. Firefox’s current 20-something percent market share is already an amazing achievement and with Firefox 3 it’s going to get a whole lot bigger.
PCF as an organization and I as an individual have lots of relationships with Mozilla: we’ve contributed code, they’ve donated to us, I’ve done paid and unpaid consulting, they’ve given staff time, promotional support, and lots of love. If either of us were typical companies, that would be a disclaimer, but instead it’s a proud partnership between two non-profit projects that are working alongside each other to make global communication more free and open than ever. We couldn’t be more proud to work with the Firefox team and it’s an extra special thrill to have built a feature that’s part of Firefox 3 (more on that soon).
The vast majority of people in the press, in business, in government, and even in public interest groups don’t have any idea how powerful open source software can be; it just doesn’t fit into their current frameworks of how the world operates. When Firefox 3 takes off like a rocket, a lot of folks will realize that new models of organization and economics are now possible that were never possible before.