The Importance of Thunderbird

Jeremy recently posted his thoughts on Mozilla’s discussions regarding “finding a new home” for Thunderbird. Jeremy and I spent a some of time discussing this at OSCON last week. I am in complete agreement, Mozilla Foundation appears to be losing its focus. The current mission statement for Mozilla Foundation is:

“The mission of the Mozilla Foundation is to create and promote the Internet as an open platform that supports the principles set out in the Mozilla Manifesto. As described in more detail in the Mozilla Manifesto, an open Internet is one where the following are true: People can participate at all levels, with low barriers and without the need to “buy into” a centralized agenda, data source, hardware or software system. Open standards are the basis of key technologies. Open source software is available for key Internet activities. Open alternatives for key Internet activities are competitive with closed, proprietary offerings and with desktop-centric offerings. eterogeneous environments are possible – we don’t all need to use the same hardware, software or data sources. People can make and implement decisions about their online experience and their data.”

As you can see their goal is to have an open internet platform, not just an open browser / world domination by Firefox. And their goal is definitely not to focus on the interests of Mozilla Corporation / Firefox.

Email / scheduling / shared calendaring is a area that falls with in the bounds of the Mozilla Foundation mission statement.  It is also an area that needs support in becoming an “open” part of the internet, as the  sector is currently dominated by closed applications; Specifically Outlook (or is it Lookout). Thunderbird is one of the few clients that can compete in this sector, especially if Lightening/Sunbird are ever completed. Even Qualcomm believes this and is basing new versions of Eudora on the Thunderbird code base.  Mozilla should be throwing MORE effort / resources behind these products,  not less.

Commentary so far suggests that Mozilla Foundation appears to be developing “tunnel vision” and focusing on their “profitable” ventures, Firefox. Jeremy compares this to “something a corporation would do“, not a foundation. Agreed, Mozilla needs to use the $29M in revenue they generate via Firefox each year, and put that towards helping many types of internet open-standards efforts succeed, not just the browser. Doing this will help create a better, more diverse and open internet. Not to mention it would provide an opportunity for them to diversify their funding sources.  Does the current model even pass the public support test?

Anyways, for those interested here are some interesting numbers from Mozilla Foundation’s 2005 tax filings:

– Contributions Received: $493,867.00
– Revenue from Interest: $539,019.00
– Revenue from Search/Royalties: $28,802,507.00
– Total Revenue: $29,805,229.00
– Total Expenses: $2,960,878.00
– Excess / Profit: $26,844,351.00
– Total Assets as of Jan, 1 2005: $5,851,915.00
– Total Assets as of Dec 31 2005: $32,919,984.00

The 2006 tax returns have not yet been made available by the IRS, but I’ll keep an eye out for them.

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