Here’s the situation. You are the market leader, and have 90% market share. Your competitor has around 5%. You need to kill this guy and make sure he doesn’t grow. What options do you have?
1. Buy the competitor.
2. Give away your product for free, making sure everyone uses it, thus killing the competition.
3. ‘Co-operate’ with the competition.
Now, any sane manager would select the first option, and in some special cases, the second one. But only the smartest, most cunning corporation could select the third option and still go unnoticed.
I am talking about the new agreement between Microsoft (MSFT) and Mozilla Corp, the organization distributing Mozilla Firefox.
Mozilla has agreed to let Microsoft use this logo
The logo is usually seen on Firefox’s address bar to indicate that a website has an RSS feed associated with it. By acquiring the right to use this logo, Microsoft is ostensibly bringing itself closer to its customers and establishing standards.
To me, the real reason seems to be a long term plan to crush Firefox. Think about it. We already know that IE7 is going to have tabs and inbuilt popup blocking. These are the two major features that usually bring newbies to Firefox. Using icons from Firefox (and possibly making IE natively skinnable in Vista) will simply make IE and Firefox look identical to each other, thus killing the differentiation that attracts people to alternative browsers initially. Yes, the solid codebase and awesome features like extensions make Firefox a keeper. But at first glance, if there is no difference, people will not make the switch to Firefox.
A clever move on Microsoft’s part. As a marketing company, M$ understands that the package is as important as the stuff inside. And as for Mozilla Corp, this is what John Lilly, Mozilla’s VP – business development, had to say,
“It was a pretty easy call to say, ‘This is better for users.’ “
Rock on Mozilla! Firefox vaazhga!