I have not paid a lot of attention to Mozilla, but recently I have spotted an article about Firefox OS troubles, so I quickly draw a couple of maps:
- first of all, Apple released the first iPhone. This had tremendous effects on Firefox - users no longer required a browser, because they had 'apps' which focus on doing a single thing well. If you found a proper app, you had to use generic search no longer. That meant less search traffic which led to less revenue from ads.
- I guess Google was not happy with cooperation with Mozilla. This does not mean that Mozilla did anything wrong, but it was able to change the search engine easily and cause a significant change in Google income. Google decided to create their own browser to protect the search stream and ads revenue.
- also, Google recognized that browsers could be replaced by apps, so it created new ecosystem based on new operating system.
Mozilla did not react.
The Firefox browser, while still having certain advantages, cannot really cope with browsers preinstalled on mobile devices. A user sees them before he has even a chance to think of Firefox, and their integration with OS services makes them nearly irreplaceable. Additionally, the synchronization services do not work between different browsers, so significant Chrome usage on Android bolsters Chrome usage on desktop.
Mozilla cannot compete in this area.
Mozilla probably understands its position very well now, and does the only sensible thing - it tries to monetize their value chain by offering commercial services based on know how such as quality assurance and release engineering. But those services will not fuel the company in its current size.
Unfortunately this is a very adequate perspective.
Firefox, as an open source project, depends heavily on the community that actively supports it. And the community is proportional to the market share. Innovation comes from that community. With a dwindling user base, the only option for Firefox to keep relevance is to copy more popular browsers, which is a reasonable option in short term, but definitely states who is a number two browser in the long run.
Also, Firefox cannot be a niche product for developers if it is not a primary product for users.
The only niche for Firefox is the niche of super privacy. But it is a niche, not a mainstream, and it is far for the past greatness. Too far for anyone to accept that.
This was done on purpose although not explicitly stated. The majority of people is not interested in privacy nor in altering their default browser. In fact, the default browser in my Android phone is called the 'Internet'. Firefox would have to be significantly better than the default browser which is impossible, because competition can easily copy unique features.
My entire post is about management. The board is desperate to find a way out of and acts frantically, but refuses to acknowledge that the good times are already gone and nothing can keep Firefox in its current shape.
Drastic measures must be taken in current circumstances to avoid controlled flight into the ground, but no manager would like to have this in CV. So frantic moves and slow decline continue.
At this point, you may find everything what I have described as obvious, especially if you are close to the browser community. Please bear in mind that this analysis took 10 minutes to figure out with the Value Chain Maps, and that Mozilla troubles could be easily avoided in the right time.
The Value Chain Mapping tells you when it is time to think about the future, and gives you significant insights into what may happen in the future.
Secondly, the same article says that Firefox OS will be used on IoT devices. This is extremly good news, because Mozilla will take part in this race:
congratulations! I wish you all the best!