Governance and Release Model updates
kent at caspia.com
Fri Nov 9 23:01:27 UTC 2012
On 11/8/2012 6:27 AM, Gervase Markham wrote:
> On 04/11/12 21:00, Kent James wrote:
>> At this point, I am convinced that what is really needed is a rework in
>> direction for the mailnews client, allowing resources to be devoted to
>> 1) enterprise-friendly options and features, 2) better compatibility
>> with the mobile and web space, 3) fixing old bugs, and 4) expanded
>> protocol capability beyond traditional IMAP. For that to happen, the
>> project management would need to really focus on developing income, as
>> we would need at least $1,000,000 per year to make any real progress.
> You may be right.
> If you think Postbox is failing at this, what makes you think another
> effort would succeed?
That's the key question isn't it? To believe in success, we have to
explain not only why Postbox is struggling* but also why both JB and
David Ascher failed to generate sufficient income to continue funding
Briefly though, here's theories on each of these:
Postbox: As a fork, they lost access to the innovations that were being
funded by Mozilla in Thunderbird without considerable backporting
effort, plus addons were not directly compatible. They really have no
effective market differentation from Thunderbird that I can see, other
than trying to be a better Thunderbird. If Mozilla had reduced their
funding for Thunderbird in 2007 instead of 2012 (which is probably the
bet that Postbox made and lost) they would have done much better.
Mozilla (JB & DA): To believe that both of these failed to generate
sufficient income, you have to believe that there is something in
Mozilla culture or organization that prevented them from seeing or
pursuing other paths. There are plenty of candidates: 1) not enough
focus on the enterprise, 2) too much focus on hoping to fulfill
Mozilla's mandate of gaining internet influence, 3) complacency born of
dependency on Firefox income, 4) protecting a Mozilla image that relies
implicitly on that same Firefox income, 5) strong belief in Mozilla that
desktop clients like Thunderbird are obsolete, 6) unable to pursue
directions that involve direct payment from users.
But these are theories only. Still, the "JB and DA" story is one of the
reasons that people like myself and BenB keep trying to make the case
that there needs to be a more radical break from the past governance if
there is to be any hope of a revitalization of Thunderbird.
>> For Thunderbird to even attempt this
>> direction would have significant risk and controversy, and that is
>> exactly the last thing that Mozilla wants for Thunderbird right now.
> I think it's a political reality that they will need to be
> organizationally independent of Mozilla-the-organization.
I'm so glad to hear you say that. It's been difficult to talk about
possible alternate governance of a future Mozilla-based communications
client without being viewed as anti-Mozilla, or trying some sort of coup.
To avoid the Postbox situation, it really is important that this
"organizationally independent of Mozilla-the-organization" entity be at
least cooperative with, and ideally highly symbiotic with Thunderbird.
I'm still considering possible futures. If anyone else is interested in
discussing this more, what do you think would be the best forum for that?
Here's my evidence that Postbox is struggling:
1) They cut their price in half, which is never a sign of strength.
2) They no longer provide any path for user support, not even a
3) One of their founders, Seth Spitzer, is now working for Zygna. His
page at http://www.linkedin.com/in/sspitzer describes Postbox as having
"tens of thousands of paying customers". That means that their total
sales over 5 years have probably been less than $1,000,000 - certainly
not enough to fund 3 full-time silicon valley types.
4) They did not even incorporate Gecko 10, so they have no path
currently for security updates. If they announce a new version that
incorporates Gecko 17 in the next few months, I'll have to revise my
But they are still doing releases, did a 3.06 this week.
More information about the tb-planning