Firefox Architect Debunks Mozilla Foundation’s Claims About Browser Bundling and Competition

by on February 10, 2009 · 148 comments

Mozilla Foundation chairperson Mitchell Baker believes that Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows represents an “ongoing threat to competition and innovation on the Internet.” But as Adam explains in an earlier post, and Ryan Paul argues over at ArsTechnica, Baker’s portrayal of the browser marketplace is way off base.

Perhaps the most interesting rebuttal to the Mozilla Foundation’s take on bundling IE with Windows comes from a surprising source: Mike Connor,  Firefox’s chief software architect. Here’s what he had to say a couple days ago in an interview with PC Pro:

Connor said, referring to Firefox’s ever improving market share, which now stands at just over 20% worldwide. “It’s asserting that bundling leads to market share. I don’t know how you can make the claim with a straight face,” he said.

“As people become aware there’s an alternative, you don’t end up in that [monopoly] situation. You have to be perceptibly better [than Internet Explorer],” Connor added.

Right on. It’s common knowledge that there are lots of alternatives to Internet Explorer out there. Firefox is a household name at this point, and anybody dissatisfied with IE can easily download FF–or any other competing browser.

One suggested remedy for Microsoft’s allegedly illegal bundling is to mandate that Windows come with multiple browsers pre-installed, not just IE. But Connor doesn’t think this is such a good idea:

Firefox architect Mike Connor said Mozilla is still considering its position in light of the ruling, but that he wouldn’t be in favour of Firefox being bundled with Windows. “My personal view is that it’s not the right outcome,” he said. “The choice [when installing Windows] would be weird. There’s no good UI [user interface] for that.”

In a separate interview, Connor also expresses concern that the way things are going, it may soon be Firefox–not IE–that is branded the monopolist in the browser marketplace:

Connor admits the prospect of achieving monopoly status – defined as two thirds of the market in the US – has been a topic of discussion at Mozilla HQ. “We are kind of worried about the monopoly thing,” Connor admitted in an exclusive interview with PC Pro. “We don’t want to kill everybody else.”

Previous post:

Next post: