Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Geoffrey Moore: Firefox is crossing the chasm

Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Technology Products to Mainstream Customers, presented at the Open Source Business Conference 2005, titled Open Source Has Crossed the Chasm...Now What? (you can download or stream the talk for free, no registration required). In this talk, he briefly mentions Firefox:
Firefox, I think is in the chasm. You say, "Well, how is that possible? It's the hottest thing in the place." But it's hot with all the early adopters and I don't think it's crossed the chasm. ... By the way, getting to the chasm is progress. It really is. You know, people are into chasm denial, but the truth of the matter is, getting to the chasm means you have achieved a constituency in the early market that worked, but now the problem is you've got to make a transition, and what appealed to that first group of people will not be what appeals to the people on the other side of the chasm.

First of all, I think it says a lot about Geoffrey Moore that he's been thinking about Firefox and the rest of the open source world, to the extent that he put together such a talk for the Open Source Business Conference.

Secondly, this has important effects on Firefox's marketing efforts. They need to focus their message to the mainstream person. Find the pains they are feeling in web browsing and explain how Firefox eases those pains. "All gain, no pain." That's what mainstream people want to hear when they are considering adopting some new technology like Firefox. The cool features are still cool (like fast rendering, extensions, themes, etc.), but they need to remember that those features won't influence mainstream people nearly as much as the 'pain killer' features will (pop-up blocking, rapid security patches, no Active-X, etc.). Instead of leaving people thinking "Firefox may be slightly better than IE, but I'm happy with IE. It's good enough," they need to get people to see that "IE is painful, I need something better."

The talk is also quite interesting from the open source perspective. I highly recommend it. Slides are available.