Thunderbird market segments

Kent James kent at
Tue Apr 27 00:05:59 UTC 2010

  I want to try to summarize what I am hearing from people, rather than 
focus on a point-by-point commentary or rebuttal that would result in 
the kind of pointless long-winded discussion that this list is supposed 
to be preventing.

First, let me point out that the only agreed market segmentation is the 
"individual" versus the "enterprise". Personally I don't think that is 
enough granularity to help truly understand direction, but I'm not sure 
continuing that discussion is worthwhile.

What has been emerging instead is a collection of advantages (which are 
closely related to features) of a standalone client that Thunderbird 
should embrace to be effective. (This is by the way classic "feature 
focused versus market focused" product understanding that your marketing 
consultant will counsel against.)

I understand fairly well:

1) Privacy ("A desktop client is essential for privacy of the individual 
and private mail.")

2) Performance (speed and GUI comfort)

3) Customization ("a comm. client should in theory be customizable more 
easily than a hosted webapp")

4) Source consolidation ('giving people access to multiple types of 
communications from multiple "vendors" '). Clearly my EWS work is 
targeted squarely here.

I understand less well:

5) "Communications have intent, and we need to understand what those 
are"  Although I think I understand the problem, I am not sure that 
there are proposed features that address this, other then rough 
categorization means such as tags, filters, and virtual folders.

6) "puts users in effective control of their digital lives". While I 
think this is a fascinating philosophy, as we see the embrace of 
Facebook and Apple products which are diametrically opposed to this, 
there is very little acceptance of this as a value by the public.

I would add to this my own under-appreciated area:

7) Activity dashboard. At least for me, my standard task management 
strategy revolves around a few simple organizing schemes that are done 
in Thunderbird - favorite folders and starred messages. For most people, 
they only have a few places that they go daily to figure out activities 
that need followup, and the client should support that well, 
consolidating multiple information sources into a coherent scheme of 
required actions.

Finally, responding to "we need to paint a picture of a future version 
of Thunderbird that is compelling ... I don't think that's something 
that can be done either a) with words alone, or b) in isolation."

I don't see anywhere an attempt to describe "with words" a compelling 
vision for Thunderbird. Instead of "with words alone" let's embrace 
"with words at least". Maybe that is where I get strange ideas about 
what people believe and their strategy. If I don't hear it in words, 
then I have to make it up.

Kent James

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