Thunderbird market segments

Kent James kent at caspia.com
Mon Apr 26 21:53:30 UTC 2010


  On 4/26/2010 11:05 AM, David Ascher wrote:
> (Note that for most universities I know about, desktop clients are 
> primarily allocated to faculty & staff, and students, more mobile, use 
> webmail).
> SOHO/SMB users tend to be more like "consumers".
>  - Both market segments periodically evaluate their use of desktop 
> software in a world where the web is becoming more potent daily
>  - Mozilla's culture, at least since the inception of Firefox, and as 
> described by the Mozilla Manifesto, is user-centric, not 
> business-centric. When having to choose between something that is 
> better for people or something that is better for organizations, we 
> routinely choose the former. I'm proud of that and I don't see that 
> changing.
> - Mozilla's greatest successes to date center on making the web 
> accessible, fun, useful.
>  - I don't think it would serve our mission to set up Mozilla 
> Messaging as an enterprise-focused business

If I may summarize your views in a way that you will probably object to, 
but I sincerely believe is accurate, it is that 1) there is no future in 
a standalone email client like Thunderbird for the individual user, and 
2) MoMo must remain committed to the individual user, therefore 3) 
Thunderbird does not make any sense as a flagship product for the future 
world that you see for MoMo. That's what makes it really hard to make 
comments on directions for Thunderbird, as it does not really fit into 
the strategic future of MoMo - your product is RainDrop.

It seems to me that MoMo needs to either clearly articulate the 
technical direction that Thunderbird could take to morph it into a 
product that matches your strategic vision - or else agree that the 
individual user is not the ultimate target of Thunderbird, and let it 
develop into a product focused on various organizational or professional 
market segments. My fear is that you will hold on to Thunderbird as an 
individual email client for too long, and in the process allow any 
possible strength it might have had as an organizational product (or 
working professional-focused product) to be regressed into oblivion.

I personally am not pessimistic about the role of a standalone email 
client for the individual, but I think that there needs to be some major 
changes in focus, understanding what, exactly, a standalone client 
offers over a webmail client, and designing the product to optimize 
those advantages. As a unifying concept, I would use information 
defragmentation (see 
http://mesquilla.com/2009/01/27/information-fragmentation-its-the-enemy/ 
for a personal client. (That is where my heart is, but I also agree with 
your assessment that it is much easier to imagine an income model 
focused on business-oriented market segments than personal-oriented 
market segments. So I focus there with my EWS work.)

So in conclusion, I think that Thunderbird badly needs a carefully 
articulated strategic vision, organized around a few target market 
segments where the product could offer some compelling advantages over 
the available alternatives.

I appreciate your comments so far, and look forward to hearing more 
about the vision for Thunderbird that the MoMo team develops.

Kent  James



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