Business models for Thunderbird

Axel Grude axel.grude at
Thu Oct 22 14:39:09 UTC 2015

This is just an idea from my perspective - I would be happy to throw in some of my 
premium license Addons for a small fee (QuickFolders Pro, quickFilters, maybe 
SmartTemplate4) if it helped justify such cost.

With Addons, it is always hard to tell who is going to use them, but productivity 
boosting stuff is usually well appreciated. Of course it is only an incentive if there 
are savings (I am currently charging 15$ for a full license, 7.50 for a Domain one), 
at least to my users saving that expense would be an argument for a "Thunderbird Pro" 
version. Of course it is hard to tell from having only 25,000 users whether there 
would be universal appeal - but Postbox and Apple actually copied some of the features 
that QF offers.

*Axel Grude <mailto:axel.grude at>*
Software Developer
Thunderbird Add-ons Developer (QuickFolders, quickFilters, QuickPasswords, Zombie 
Keys, SmartTemplate4)
AMO Editor Get Thunderbird!

> *Subject:* Business models for Thunderbird
> *To:* Tb-planning
> *From: *Phillip Hallam-baker
> *Sent: *Thursday, 22/10/2015 14:24:28 14:24 GMT ST +0100 [Week 42]
> 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. One suggestion made is that TB partner with one of the
> many email service providers that offer enhanced search etc. But that
> creates another problem, development of TB is now limited to not
> competing with the channel.
> I think the affiliate model is viable but it needs to be considered at
> a higher level. In particular, who actually uses TB? What products do
> such people not buy today but might buy in the future?
> For quite a while, I have been thinking that the traditional
> ISP/service provider model is broken at the customer end. I have a
> choice between Verizon and Comcast as broadband Internet providers and
> that is it. They provide SMTP with spam filtering, will host a small
> web site with static pages and that is it. They don't support use of
> custom domains, a decent blogging platform, etc. etc.
> If you look at the incremental cost of supporting almost any service,
> it is in the pennies per user. It isn't zero, which means anyone
> trying to provide the service for free will eventually go bust or cash
> in. Most of the services aren't quite valuable enough to stand on
> their own either though. There isn't a paid email service that is so
> much better than gmail free service to be worth $50/year. S/MIME certs
> have the same problem.
> But what if services were aggregated? $50 for email is not worth it.
> But a bundle could be worth it, $50/yr for:
> * Domain name
> * Dynamic DNS
> * Email with SMTP/IMAP/POP3/Spam filter
> * S/MIME and OpenPGP support
> * XMPP Presence
> * OAUTH / similar authentication presence.
> * Anti Virus
> * Personal WordPress with SNI/TLS
> * Full DNS management for the above [DNSSEC/DANE]
> This would be on a 'curated service' rather than a full control basis.
> This reduces customer service costs and means that features like
> DNSSEC are easier to roll out, everything is consistent. So when there
> is a new feature gets to RFC status, it can be rolled out across a
> significant user base on a single day.
> Now the capital cost of tooling up to support all those well is
> significant. And there are customer support costs which are going to
> be non-negligible per user. But $50/yr for the above package would
> leave a significant chunk for an affiliate fee.
> As you all know, I work for Comodo which provides that bundle of
> services today. But we mostly do that through a network of affiliates.
> I don't want to get into a conflict with my channel which is generally
> thought of as being a domain name registrar but their primary function
> is actually customer service. Nor do I want to end up building out my
> customer support. that is the job of the channel.
> What we could do though is to develop a standardized package and sign
> up resellers to provide it. TB would then advertise them as potential
> service providers. Most of the service providers are specialized to a
> region and/or language. TB can prioritize accordingly.
> I think that with appropriate tweakage, this could be a win-win-win.
> There could also be a mini package that just enables S/MIME support at
> a lower price point. But this would require the S/MIME support in TB
> to be fixed. Right now it takes me 20 minutes to apply for and install
> a cert for TB. Doing the same thing for Windows live mail is a one
> click deal using my code.
> Getting TB users to donate $20 as a thank you is probably a one time
> deal. If they are getting an S/MIME cert and they used it, they would
> have an incentive to renew. Again, we could look at a number of
> business models. At present Comodo is giving away S/MIME certs and
> also selling them.
> _______________________________________________
> tb-planning mailing list
> tb-planning at

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: thunderbird_blog2.png
Type: image/png
Size: 846 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>

More information about the tb-planning mailing list