Just over 10 years ago, Mozilla released an “Open Source Browser Suite” called Mozilla 1.0, featuring a Web browser (of course), an email reader and a chat client. It took 2.5 additional years to ship Firefox 1.0, but it was a defining moment for Mozilla. Fast forward to 2012: so many things have changed since then, under the influence of many people and organizations, including Mozilla. I would like to point out two things that Mozilla has helped to make possible:
1 – Bring back competition to the browser market. By 2003, Microsoft Internet Explorer had more than 90% market share. Now users have choice between several solutions, most of them being at least partly open-source.
2 – Demonstrate that a non-profit community-based organization could build a successful open-source end-user product and challenge very large commercial companies. Firefox was this product. It is now used on almost half a billion machines.
Ten years ago, very few people thought that these two things where even remotely possible, myself included. Yet it had to happen. The Web was a wonderful vision that started to happen then stopped. People from all over the world wanted a modern browser, because they wanted their vision of the Web to become reality. Many of them helped Mozilla. Millions of people started using Firefox even before it even reached version 1.0. Firefox is now at version 13.0 and is available in 85+ languages, thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers around the world.
Now that Mozilla has shown what is possible when people cooperate on a global scale, Mozilla is extending its reach to new territories, particularly mobile. In the short term, this means a completely new version of Firefox for Android, now in Beta, to be released soon (got a recent high-end Android phone? Try Firefox for Android Beta, you’ll love it!). In the long term, Mozilla is working on a project code-named Boot to Gecko, whose goal is to bring the open Web to mobile devices. Now this probably sounds like an audacious challenge for a non-profit organization. But you need industry-changing goals like this to energize such a talented community, with such an amazing track record!