Thunderbird future -- the big picture?

Kent James kent at
Thu Jul 19 16:18:28 UTC 2012

On 7/19/2012 7:43 AM, neandr wrote:
> Following all the postings about the recent Mozilla TB announcement I 
> missing a discussion about the "Big Picture" Mozilla has in mind.
> First let me state: I'm a Thunderbird fan, working with 'it' since the 
> Netscape days, also in one of the big  international IT companies 
> (instead of using OL!). So I hope we'll have a bright future with a 
> Mozilla mail product.
> Things are changing, communication has more facets these days, the 
> internet communication methods offer much more possibilities. Has 
> Thunderbird changed / evolved to meet those requirements?
> We have seen Raindrop some times ago. Visit those project pages today: 
> "This project is considered inactive."
> I remember there have been other discussions to enhance Thunderbird 
> for newer communications methods. Any news on that? Not really?
> Can we expect a move to an implementation of the other methods of 
> communications into Firefox (see Raindrop)? How will react Mozilla to 
> support the Social Connections ? Will they leave it others (Android)? 
> How about Boot2Gecko? Will it offer mail, Social Connections, etc ?
> So, what is Mozillas "Big Picture", the discussion behind the scene? 
> My feeling: the statement was not the complete story!
> Günter

Let me summarize the big picture as I see it (caveat: I am an observer, 
not an insider) from what I think is the Mozilla viewpoint ("wearing my 
Mozilla teeshirt"):

1) Mozilla gave it their best shot, within the means that they thought 
they could afford, to let Thunderbird become the "Firefox of the email 
world" (the MoMo effort) and that effort has largely failed.

2) Mozilla is very clear that their mission is to protect the internet 
from bad things as they see it (save the internet from Mozevil), and 
they do that through compelling products (products that are Mozawesome). 
In the world of email and the desktop (which is how Mozilla defines 
Thunderbird, a "desktop email client") there is neither a Mozevil to 
fight (since IMAP is an open, widely distributed standard) nor do they 
have a compelling Mozawesome product offering. /So there is no battle 
worth fighting here/.

3) In the "bigger picture", the battle that /is/ worth fighting is the 
battle for mobile. So they ask themselves, could the Thunderbird code be 
morphed into becoming the primary base for a future mobile-based 
communication client? Their answer is no, and instead we have a new 
effort (Gaia EMail or GEM as I call it) that is starting from a fresh 
code base. The Mozawesome future is that GEM and its siblings would be 
the basis of future communications, running in a Gaia environment that 
could run on any platform.

4) So what do we (the guys who actually have to pay for these Mozilla 
teeshirts) do now? We can't just abandon this thing called Thunderbird, 
as it would be Mozevil to just abandon 20 million users and leave them 
stuck with an insecure email client over time. So we will spend as 
little as we can to maintain the product securely.

 From everything that I know and can guess, if I was the guy or gal 
paying for the teeshirts, /I would come to the same conclusion that they 
did, and make the same decision/. But really the issue is not whether we 
agree with the decision or not, the people with the responsibility to 
make the decision have made it, and we are not going to change it, so we 
need to adapt.

But most mornings, I am not wearing my Mozilla teeshirt, and at heart am 
more of a product/business guy. What gets me excited is not the 
Mozawesome future, but business models where people can earn a living 
while doing what they love in a community where they have some security. 
That's a whole nuther discussion, but let me just say that I still find 
Thunderbird as a product engaging, and hope that we can figure out ways 
to work together, as a community, for the benefit of the world at large 
as well as for our own good.

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