The growth of our download numbers and active users

About one month ago we shared our download numbers and we announced the majority of the lightning users are on Thunderbird 3.x. The numbers showed that roughly 75% of our users now used a Thunderbird 3.x. During the last month some things have changed: Even more users have downloaded lightning for Thunderbird and the number of users who use Thunderbird 3.1 has grown.

In this chart you can see that most users are still using Thunderbird 3.0, but the number of users who use Thunderbird 3.1 is steadily growing and it will lead very soon. The number of Lightning users on Thunderbird 3.1 has been growing very fast in the last two months, which shows that Lightning is a great add-on and people just love it as much as we do.
While the number of Thunderbird 3.1 users is growing, the number of Thunderbird 3.0 users has literally collapsed, although the number of Thunderbird 2.0 users is going down very slowly.


In this chart you can see the active daily users of Lightning on Thunderbird. You can see, that the number is still growing, but in the last few weeks the number has been falling a little bit.

That’s all about Lightning – let us move on to Sunbird!

In this chart you can see the active daily Sunbird users. The average is still moving up, but earlier last month the number was moving down for some weeks. This chart explains itself pretty well, so let us move on again…

Sometimes people are still using an outdated version of Sunbird. Although the development of Sunbird has stopped, you are still able to update Sunbird. Now, you may ask how much the daily growth of updates is. In this chart you can clearly see that the numbers are really random…

So, let us finally compare the download growth of Lightning and Sunbird.
You can clearly see that we got more Lightning users on Thunderbird than Sunbird users. While the number of Lightning users is still growing, Sunbird is almost dying. In the 35-day moving average you can see that the download number was rising for a short while, but suddently just dropped again.

Now, what do these numbers mean for us, the calendar software and its future?
To find this out, you need to have some different angles of view on the download numbers: The future of Lightning seems really good so far, while the future of Sunbird looks very dark. But what have we learned from this? Well, we learned lots of things, for example that some users don’t want to use an application for mail and for calendar – they don’t want to use more than one program, they want to use an add-on that brings the calendar-function to Thunderbird, an awesome mail client, while some users prefer using multiple applications.
We also learned that people really like to have the latest version of software installed, although some people just want to stay on the old versions.

The future of our calendar software seems obvious, but even if you take a closer look at it you can’t really predict what the numbers will look like…

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  1. Do NOT believe The Calendar & email programs NEED to be integrated. I would rather choose the best available browser (Thunderbird) and the best Available Calendar Program (NOT Lightning). I strongly believe in “Best of Breed”, even though I may sacrifice some integration functionality. A good calendar program integrates calendars across the enterprise.

  2. The charts look glitzy, but the 3D-ness and accompanying perspective foreshortening make it harder to compare two points on the graph. You are burying utility under a mountain of presentation.

  3. Jan,
    be VERY careful with the interpretation of the provided statistical data. It seems to me, that your analysis is very subjective and influenced by your inner thoughts / feelings.
    Statement like “Well, we learned lots of things, for example that users don’t want to use an application for mail and for calendar – they don’t want to use more than one program, they want to use an add-on that brings the calendar-function to Thunderbird, an awesome mail client.” is a pure speculation.
    When was the end of Sunbird project officially announced? A year ago? What have a typical Sunbird user done, upon hearing this? Probably started looking at the Lightning add-on as the only viable option, if he or she doesn’t want to migrate their data or learn a totally new interface. But no one can judge if this transition to Lighting was intentional.
    Personally, as a satisfied Sunbird user, I prefer (for various reasons) a separate calendar application and my urge to migrate to Lightning is very low.

  4. I like the 3D look of these graphs. What did you use to create them ?

  5. In opposite to other comments I would say that closer integration of e-mail and calendar application (and an office suite, which is of the most importance for me) is the only way for broader use of lightning. However these tools can be separate as well, but some kind of integration layer should be developed, so that users can convert messages to events, provide links to files to work on in calendar window, to make appointments from any place on their desktop and do other things aimed to increase productivity.
    Best regards!

  6. “TB3 ratio”, “TB 3.0 ratio” and “TB 3.1 ratio” in a pie chart? Can you please clarify? I thought TB3 would be the sum of TB3.0 and 3.1?!

  7. I like your charts, how to you do them ?

  8. Ian Thomas (thelem)

    Jens: The first label says TB2 (I don’t know if its been changed).
    I think they are still wrong though, the text (and my expectations) suggest that they labels should be:
    Blue – TB 3.1
    Green – TB 3.0
    Yellow – TB 2

  9. I think looking at the public stats on AMO, the first graph is obviously wrong. The 3.1 stats are somewhere over 50% and that’s just a quick look at the 3.1.4 levels.
    Sunbird has been clearly marked as end of life, so I don’t think you can really say that you’re keeping Sunbird users up to date…

  10. I too will ring in and note that the gratuitous use of 3D detracts from any data that charts might contain. This is what is so evil about MS-Excel. Tufte would not be pleased with the amount of complexity and very little information in these charts.

  11. Written in Chinese Simplified.

  12. @Jan
    The first chart is obviously wrong and does not reflect the data that I sent you (via Philipp). Please correct that!

  13. I have to echo other comments here. I haven’t downloaded a new version of Sunbird in a couple of years. I wasn’t even aware new versions were being distributed. The reason is because the death of Sunbird was announced a very long time ago. If anything, you should interpret the fact that anyone is downloading Sunbird at all as a sign that the community is not going quietly to Lightening.

  14. I’m confused, has the calendar project just announced they’re supporting sunbird again?
    “Since we never leave our users with one outdated version of Sunbird, we always give Sunbird new updates with new cool features and bugfixes.”
    I have to look for the latest version

  15. I personally tried Lightning before switching to Sunbird. Both have their merits but as a heavy laptop user with a 14.1 in square display I really hated having to constantly move around my email layout to view the calendar; sure all I had to do was click a spot on the screen and the display would change but I would rather not have to do that.
    I prefer separate apps and hope that you would bring back Sunbird development that would include the ability to use Thunderbird features if needed ie: send invites via email

  16. @philip .
    The last conclusion you have done from the chart is wrong.
    Because the people know that the you are doing focus on lightning.
    All layout are changing on Lighting
    Near from nothing , are the changes on sunbird.
    Doing a comparison with lightining , we can compare the toolbar, and see that this is the same from 0.5, 0.6 … we can see that Sunbird is discontinuous
    And Phillip, please, pay attention to the Calendar website, we have Sunbird 1.0 beta 2 yes or not !?
    the site had not been updated
    Please, take a look
    We have these:
    Lightning 1.0 beta2
    Sunbird 1.0 beta1
    Now, take a look
    For me, the people are following to the neglect to sunbird and only downloading the lighting , because, you stoped update the official releases…
    Now I know why the lighting is being the most downloaded from calendar project.
    So, please, Phillip, before take conclusions to a possible death of a project, please, take a look to all sides of views.
    Thanks for read
    And long life to Sunbird project

  17. I did not know there was a b2 (thank you Erik) for Sunbird; the Sunbird page still mentions beta 1.
    I would prefer a separate calendar program.
    It is not very logical one has to start up a mail program to make a new entry in ones calendar.
    Nor does anyone start up a spreadsheet to write a letter with a word-processor.

  18. I don’t use either one, but I want a calendar / scheduler that is: 1. easy to use and behaves nicely in the (linux desktop) system tray, 2. easy to share securely with others (like a little ics server / google integration or something). The tie-in with email and messaging is obvious. Please excuse my ignorance, but I have been frustrated by PIM programs and their apparently pointless complexity and crypticness. May I suggest getting these things working well as a good goal — perhaps as a library that others can integrate into browser programs. I agree with the comments implying poor promotional efforts.

  19. I don’t want a calendar add-on (Lightning). Lightning needs to be a first-class part of Thunderbird. For example, when I set up Gmail, it should automatically connect the appropriate calendar at the same time.
    Thunderbird / Lightning could be the hub and Google and other calendar providers (as well as event / schedule sites) could be connected spokes. Or T/L + one online calendar could be the hub.
    As for Sunbird, I only recently installed it, because the current version of Lightning is just in the way of the mail client. Sunbird would have a place if it was re-written to work well with various e-mail clients. (For example, I also use Claws-Mail. If Sunbird could connect as Claws’s calendar, I’d be thrilled. I’m sure users of Outlook Express / Windows Mail feel the same way.)