Thunderbird market segments

Ben Bucksch ben.bucksch at
Tue Apr 27 13:30:53 UTC 2010

  On 27.04.2010 02:05, Kent James wrote:
>  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.

My feeling of this is:
We are targetted at average users. Not the totally novice clueless "I 
just want my mail !!!!" users, but our core target group are neither the 
hard-core techies. Just the average Joe, mom and dad, with a reasonable 
intelligence, basic understanding of computers and GUIs, from almost all 
age groups.

There are many open-source MUAs which target the techies, mutt to 
mention one. There are not many few open-source MUAs which target 
average users, and in many cases, we're the only viable open-source 
option. That said, the techies are important, because they are potential 
contributors and more importantly give mind-share. Average Joes listen 
to the techies when they recommend something. If the technies despise us 
(a very good and quick way to achieve utter hatred by techies is to 
encourage HTML mail, because it affects recipients), they will not cheer 
for us. Their cheering is essential in the word-of-mouth for private 
users and even for small and big company rollouts. So, this target group 
is essential to keep. We currently have a good size of the techie users, 
and that's good.

(Also, as said, some features like speed of IMAP folders with 10,000 
messages, or hidden prefs, are good for both power users and enterprises.)

So, what results from that is: Make a client which is very intuitive to 
use, with a clean, nice UI and powerful, discoverable universal features 
which get out of the way when not needed, but can be trivially and 
naturally found when needed and applied for multiple problems. Make it 
powerful to grow to increasing user needs as people progress, up to the 
power users. This is hard, but possible 90% of the time, you need to 
find elegant, natural solutions, but that's what makes a client great.

(And, given the many requirements that a single client for 3000 users 
(both novice and power users) needs to fulfill, that's often needed for 
enterprise rollouts, too.)

This is what Thunderbird should be (and, with limitations, is): A client 
enjoyable and useful for normal users, allowing them to communicate and 
work with fun and speed/ease, with a nice, welcoming UI, and serving 
users up to power users.


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