Business models for Thunderbird

Mark Rousell mark.rousell at
Thu Oct 22 14:14:38 UTC 2015

On 22/10/2015 14:24, Phillip Hallam-Baker wrote:
> One of the main differences between Firefox and Thunderbird is that
> while Firefox has a proven business model, Thunderbird does not. Open
> Source software is good but it costs money to produce really good
> product. So Firefox has a lot of paid developers, Thunderbird does
> not.
> So it is probably worthwhile considering ways that Thunderbird could
> produce a revenue stream without compromising the core value
> proposition.

Your thoughtful suggestion raises another key question to my mind: What
or who are the users of Thunderbird? Who really uses Thunderbird and who
could use it? Is it possible to target a set of users who are able and
willing to pay for certain types of value added services?

Perhaps one of the difficulties that Thunderbird faces is that most
Internet users nowadays are only interested in webmail and those people
who do use local mail clients are most likely to use a commoditised
client which quite likely came with their OS or device. The group of
users who still choose to use Thunderbird represent a niche. Can/will
this niche be willing to pay for value added services?

Also, can new niches be found for Thunderbird where there is money
available for something that is worthwhile, something that adds value to
them? One potential niche that leaps to mind are corporate customers but
this would require a very different business model compared to what we
have currently. The core software would need to be developed, as would a
surrounding ecosystem of services and facilities that could make
future-Thunderbird fit with what corporate customers would need (which I
recognise is increasingly, but not entirely webmail-focussed).

Mark Rousell

Email: mark.rousell at

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