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Mozilla The Internet Businesses

Firefox-Based Start-Up Gets Off The Ground 291

Posted by Zonk
from the more-brains-make-light-work dept.
rudy_wayne writes "ZDNet is reporting that a new version of the Firefox Web browser is coming your way, but not from the Mozilla Foundation. 'When we launch our own services, in about a month or so, we'll be looking to offer the must-have companion to Firefox,' said Bart Decrem, Round Two CEO and a former staffer at the Mozilla Foundation. 'We see tremendous room for innovating on top of the Mozilla and Firefox platform, and we see ourselves as the first company outside of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation that's fully dedicated to serving Firefox users.' Round Two planned a corporate launch Monday night with the promise of bringing 'a new crop of products and services that will enhance your Firefox experience.'"
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Firefox-Based Start-Up Gets Off The Ground

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:36PM (#12213175)
    Isn't there a risk for their company that anything they implement will be replicated by the open source community?
  • Let them come (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:39PM (#12213230)
    I sincerely hope for thousands of browsers in the market so that you have to code for a standard not for a browser.
    • Re:Let them come (Score:3, Interesting)

      by afd8856 (700296)
      That's very very true.
      Unfortunately, being based on Firefox / Gecko, it won't create too much diversity.

      On the other hand, being back up by a company, perhaps they will improve it and market it so that it will take a considerable portion of the market, and then the true standards, which the mozilla engine follows, will be respected by web designers.
      • Re:Let them come (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jcuffe (873322)
        Well, it follows them more closely than IE at least, but it failed [student.uu.se] the Acid2 test [webstandards.org].

        Hell, while we're wishing on stars, maybe they'll make it even MORE standards compliant.
  • by dalmiroy2k (768278) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:39PM (#12213233)
    "'a new crop of products and services that will enhance your Firefox experience.'"

    That sounds a lot like Ads and spyware toolbars!
    If that happens, I will be returning to IE! ;-)
  • by gimpimp (218741) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:40PM (#12213243) Homepage
    is it? it must be if they think browser extensions are going to make money. people aren't going to shell out for things they don't really need.
    what's the business plan?
    • by aesiamun (862627) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:48PM (#12213361) Homepage Journal
      people aren't going to shell out for things they don't really need.

      Let's see:

      Nintendo DS
      XBox
      PSP
      Ferraris
      Televisions
      Cable TV
      Satellite TV
      DVRs
      Pez
      Porn
      Music
      Movies

      is that enough of a list? Do you need more?

      Leather jackets
      $3000 a month Loft apartments
      XM radio
      McDonalds
      Pot
      Cigarettes
      Liquor
      Gasolin e
      Cellular Telephones
      Blackberry PDAs
      "Teach yourself Anything in 21 days"
    • They must be aiming towards OEMs.

      Smaller computer makers, who can't get a good deal with Microsoft, would love to be able to customize the browser well beyond what they can do with IE. They must also be considering selling their stuff to the likes of Linspire, who have no problem with including proprietary extensions with their products.

      The end-user is way below their radar.

      And, if I were them, I would stay away from that layer.
    • 1) find hot buzzword 2) form company using said buzzword 3) ??? 4) profit!
    • by ajs (35943)
      "people aren't going to shell out for things they don't really need."

      Three words: supported, secure browser.

      Medium sized companies that have had to purge about 20 rounds of viruses that snuck past firewalls, mail scanners and anti-virus programs (usually via social engineering) are just about as fed up as they'll ever get. They're moving to web-based mailers to avoid Outlook, and they're eyeing Firefox, but FF is just a browser... they want a company they can sink their teeth into. AOL's Netscape browser
    • They are probably thinking along the lines of what Internet Explorer really is, an application platform. They will probably be marketing proprietary plug-ins and extensions for Firefox to run enterprise level applications in the browser like IE.
  • by 0kComputer (872064) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:41PM (#12213252)
    Now let me get back to my Bonzai Buddy.
  • not a new version (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brontus3927 (865730) <edwardra3NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:42PM (#12213270) Homepage Journal
    I RTFA, and don't see how they are providing a new version of Firefox. They're just providing more extensions for it. Also, I have an issue with reporting "to swipe considerable market share from Microsoft." The link in that sentance links to a page that reports Firefox has 8.3% marketshare. When Firefox reaches 20% I'll call it considerable. But 8.3% is small. Personally, I hope they reach 40%+ with other non-IE browsers taking up enough to knock IE under 50%
    • by GigsVT (208848)
      8.3% of the market is huge. It's big enough that companies can no longer have an IE only site, that would lock out nearly 10% of their market.

      Really, it's past the tipping point now, that critical mass needed to ensure web developers pay attention to it.
    • It may not be a majority or even a large minority, but 8% is indeed considerable because it forces developers to recheck their code with Firefox. And indeed, developers do seem to be watching. Just check out the W3C browser statistics [w3schools.com] which are as good a gauge as any for what developers are using. For those who don't feel like following the link, probably within a month, fully 25% of developers will be using Firefox.

      More than that, if you imagine that there are 300 million people on the web (I don't kno
  • by foobsr (693224) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:42PM (#12213282) Homepage Journal
    ... or I missed their business model completely.

    While I understand that you may base a business on for instance ZOPE [zope.org], here I have trouble to imagine how they want to earn from whom.

    In a comment to a German version of the note (at best), someone thought they would later consult with respect to mass migration from IE to FF. Maybe.

    CC.
  • by Machine9 (627913)
    they want us to pay for extensions that were previously available free of charge.



    These include FlashGot, which lets Firefox work with third-party download managers; Bandwidth Tester, which lets people determine their connection speed; and SwitchProxy, which lets people surf anonymously with Firefox by configuring Firefox to work with multiple Web proxy servers



    I know I'm not paying for any of those.

    • I'm not even using any of these. My best estimate is that installing these things will now let you "hear about cool offers" when you visit webpages.

      It's 1999 all over again.
    • by David Ziegler (5030) <david&ziegler,ws> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:50PM (#12213392) Homepage

      Right, except you only copied/pasted the part that you wanted to. The quote is actually talking about how they are sponsoring those projects, providing servers, bandwidth, and money.

      While Round Two--formerly known as MozSource--puts the finishing touches on its own products, the company is sponsoring development of several other Firefox extensions.

      These include FlashGot, which lets Firefox work with third-party download managers; Bandwidth Tester, which lets people determine their connection speed; and SwitchProxy, which lets people surf anonymously with Firefox by configuring Firefox to work with multiple Web proxy servers. Round Two is providing developers of these extensions with technical resources including Web servers, bandwidth, project management resources and some financial support.

      (Emphasis mine.) They're also supporting (again, from TFA):

      Round Two also said it was supporting StockTicker, TinyURL Creator, Copy Plain Text, Extension Uninstaller, Lorem Ipsum Content Generator, OpenDownload, Open Long URLs, Search Plugins and Secure Password Generator.

      They're also developing their own extensions (which presumably you can buy):

      As for Round Two's own extensions, Decrem said the company was considering antivirus software to integrate with Firefox.

      Now, whether that (and possibly other future products) is useful, sure, let's debate that. But don't read the article and completely misrepresent what's written.

    • "I know I'm not paying for any of those."

      I doubt there was ever any question as to the average Slashdotter being in the target audience.

      The target audience is going to be that set of companies that consider finding and installing plugins to be difficult and worthy of a support contract.
  • I'll get excited when they say what enhancements they are actually selling. Promises of "something better" don't hold much weight.
  • by DoubleDownOnEleven (690607) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:44PM (#12213313)
    This story has no information about the "product" this "company" will soon be selling. It sounds like a company without any outstanding products attempting to get a little advertising. A search for "round two mozilla" on google doesn't seem to find anything either. What gives?
    • Well, it has, but you have to _read_ the whole article...


      Mozilla development ecosystem. While Round Two--formerly known as MozSource--puts the finishing touches on its own products, the company is sponsoring development of several other Firefox extensions.

      Ok, what do we have here? Aight, a companys name, even two since it has renamed itself..

      These include FlashGot, which lets Firefox work with third-party download managers; Bandwidth Tester, which lets people determine their connection speed; an
    • by ggvaidya (747058) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @01:13PM (#12213689) Homepage Journal
      Products [roundtwo.com] and their front page [roundtwo.com]. Pretty website!

      While I don't see how they can make money off this either, anybody making money off something like Firefox sounds like not a bad idea. I'll be watching. All the best!
  • With all the buzz about a Google browser and hiring mozilla developers, is it possible that this startup is funded by Google?
  • If you were looking for an "enhanced" browsing experience, what would you want?

    Perhaps if we post some ideas of what we want, this company could do something useful

    personally for me, I'd like a button up in the toolbar that when clicked, opens every link in the current window in a new tab.
  • Uh yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Auckerman (223266) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:46PM (#12213333)
    I got on the web when Mosaic was the way to do it. In all that time, I've never bought a single web browser (you could download Netscape for free from their site, yet it was sold in the store). I've never bought a plugin. I've always considered web browsers free. I think most people see the web that way. I don't see how these guys are going to make a profit.

    Anything they come up with for Firefox will be copied by the OSS community and offered as a free download.

    Good luck
    • Re:Uh yeah (Score:3, Informative)

      by cloudmaster (10662)
      The in-store version of Netscape included an HTML editor. The browser was always free.

      I still run Mosaic on my NeXT machine...
      • I still run Mosaic on my NeXT machine...

        Bah. Mosaic. This "graphical" and "visual" crapola. Bah. Lynx is all that has ever been needed.

      • Re:Uh yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fm6 (162816)
        And Netscape sold precisely 25 copies of that product before giving up and including the editor in the free version.
    • Opera is profitable, and they sell their browser (also an ad supported one.)

      Opera's biggest money flow is selling the web browser to mobile phone companies, as Opera does a fantastic job of rendering things to a small screen.

      Perhaps this is the business model they're going after with Firefox?

      • Actually, Opera makes about 1/3 of their revenues from phones, 1/3 from desktop and the rest from licensing (Adobe GoLive) and premium services like the mobile phone accelerator and their premium web mail.
    • I've always considered web browsers free. I think most people see the web that way

      I guess that's one of the first things that needs to change, Joe-user-education-wise. Most people can't even make a distinction between "the web" and the piece of software they're using to look at it.

      The larger issue, of people that think things are "free" just because they see or get them without directly parting with money at that moment, is a symptom of a much larger cultural problem: basic ignorance of micro- and mac
  • The article is very short on information, but there is one tidbit that might shed light on what they are doing:
    "As for Round Two's own extensions, Decrem said the company was
    considering antivirus software to integrate with Firefox." emphasis mine

    With Microsoft expected by many to offer antivirus software for free with windows, could they be beating them to the punch? I know that there are a lot of free antivirus packages (I use AVG myself) but if they can leverage Firefox's large user base then they might be on to something. I personally think that its a bad move to play Microsoft's game, which is effectivly making antivirus software worthless in the market.

    Except for enterprise solutions, Symantec and McAffee could be in for a big hit in the personal antivirus protection department. Competition is an engine for innovation, but the most efficient engines for R&D come from within the firms that are actually selling the products and getting the most feeback. Something to think about, perhaps Symantec and Mcafee will continue to innovate and stay ahead of the curve.

    Well, now that I opened the can of worms at both ends...proceed

    • That thing about antivirus software caught my eye also.

      What I was wondering was: why should a virus scanner be "integrated" with a browser? The only thing I could conceive was that it would scan all downloaded files, but the file system virus scanners have that covered pretty well already (well, except for buffer-overrun-style exploits, but presumably Mozilla will just fix those in the browser).

      The other thing about virus protection: there's an enormous effort involved to keep up with new viruses, an

  • by Rorschach1 (174480) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:50PM (#12213394) Homepage
    How about doing the same with the Segway IT?

    That way we could all get a Round Two IT.
  • by drix (4602) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:52PM (#12213409) Homepage
    Funny, I couldn't discern any actual product amidst all that vapor :)
  • About Bart Decrem (Score:2, Informative)

    by praseodym (813457)
    Bart Decrem was actually one of the founders/maintainers of SpreadFirefox.com. He left a week ago or so.
  • by Neoncow (802085) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:55PM (#12213461) Journal
    Intitial reaction on Slashdot: "They're trying to charge for something we already know and love! Oh noes!!"

    Somehow, I don't think this product is targetted towards most geeks. It seems to me that they should be aiming at people who are starting to hear about Firefox. People have heard that Firefox is supposed to solve their security problems and introduce new features to make browsing easy. It's supposed to come with all sorts of cool extentions that you can download and customise your browsing experience.

    Most of the cool stuff that geeks do with Firefox is free and easy; we install extensions at a whim, customise the security settings, and tweak about:config to our liking. The problem is, most people find these activties confusing and time consuming.

    Extensions: Which one do I choose? How do I know which one has bugs? What do I do if it breaks the browser?
    Geeks know that you: a) Try them all! b) Read up on some forums for past experince. c) Backup your settyings and do a quick re-istall!
    Well, there you go. People think you need to be a super computer genius to do all of those things.

    Perhaps this company could be useful as the AOL of the open source community.

  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:55PM (#12213463)
    ...is get acquired by a large-pocketed firm that sees a demand for Moz coding experience. I mean, come on, do you think Flickr would have survived the next recession on photo sharing? These people are in it to get acquired.
  • by cca93014 (466820) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:55PM (#12213468) Homepage
    I only skimmed TFA but it could be that they are going to be developing third party XUL apps for other companies.

    Like this one [faser.net]. Imagine if AmEx wanted a XUL app for their customers to check their statements etc. etc., but dont want to pay to skill up a dev team to write the XUL app...

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @12:56PM (#12213482)

    Not having an added layer or two of bloated advertising crapware between me and my web browsing.

  • So they're going to

    Step 1: Take a browser that appeals to tech minded people who don't use the default IE and provide enhancement and "integration" of plug-ins that are already available to said tech-minded people.

    Step 2: Keep looking desperately for that "must have" widget that will appeal to "mainstream" Firefox users.

    Step 3: They're going to either charge for the browser or put ads in it or collect user info for money?

    Step 4: Profit???

    I hope they're smarter than I am because this "business mo
  • "I'm not paying!" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Xarius (691264)
    Why is everyone saying "I'm not paying for that". Unless I RTFA wrong, it doesn't say anything about paying. As far as we know, they could just advertise on the site, as they seem to be a *support* place. I know it's not that likely, but it doesn't say anything about charging.
  • by Jokkey (555838) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @01:00PM (#12213535)

    Make a corporate-friendly, highly manageable release of Firefox: an MSI installer, so it can be easily deployed via Active Directory; management via Group Policy; default settings that don't make a mess of your roaming profile.

    If Round Two did this, I imagine that they could make a decent income from organizations that are tired of IE but want something easier to deploy and maintain than Firefox.

    Mozilla bug #74085, comment 113 [mozilla.org] expresses these shortcomings of Firefox better than I did and provides more information on the above issues.

  • Yada Yada Yada (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stormcrow309 (590240) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @01:00PM (#12213544) Homepage Journal

    I think that this is not a big issue, just an announcement that they are planning on doing something. Just a preemptive tactic, probably to generate financing.

    As for all the 'End of Microsoft Monopoly', I am not sure this is really a "Good Thing". Yes, the Benevolent Microsoft Monopoly has not been that Benevolent at times, but I view this as the 'Protestant Reformation' for the Consumer IT Service Industry [CITSI] (New useless acronym), where you end up with thousands (actually hundreds) of versions of LINUX because there is always someone who thinks they know better.

  • Take Three (Score:5, Funny)

    by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @01:08PM (#12213621) Journal
    Press Release:

    Take Two based startup, Take Three, has just announced that they will be offering innovative enhancements to the community of Take Two users, who are themselves a small subset of the community of Firefox users, who are themselves a small subset of the community of Mozilla based browser users.
    Take Three is currently seeking venture funding based on highly optimistic projections of a high percentage of signups from a subset of the Take Two subset of the Firefox subset of the Mozilla user base.

  • by The One KEA (707661) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @01:14PM (#12213693) Journal
    Disclaimer: I'm one of the mods on The Extensions Mirror [extensionsmirror.nl], which is now hosted by RoundTwo.

    Folks, from what I have read on their site, RoundTwo is not appealing to geeks. They're not trying to force geeks to pay for stuff that they can get themselves, i.e. extensions and support and the like. I get the impression that they are offering extension support and bundling for corporations which want to adopt Firefox but also want a centralized entity that they can moan at when it doesn't work.

    Their stance of 'adopting' extensions and providing infrastructure for the developers to leverage for that purpose is genius, IMO - it gives the extension authors the resources to improve and maintain their extensions, and it gives RoundTwo a direct line to the authors, which makes it far easier to get the author's attention if something is broken, which is critical if they really intend on creating Firefox 'distributions' with extensions bundled in, like what bdeonline is doing with Black Diamond Firefox [mozdev.org].

    Sure, they've got the usual amount of marketing jargon out there right now, but considering that they've been supporting Mozilla software [mozsource.com] for a while now, I suspect that this is going to be the core of their business model.
  • We won't really know a thing about their business model, the utility of their products, or their strategy until they scrape together the money they need and start producing software.

    If Woz and Jobs had issued a press release from their garage stating that they were going to revolutionize the microcomputer industry, would anyone have paid any attention? On the flip side, a lot of people gave numerous dot com outfits the benefit of the doubt during the bubble.

    The moral of the story is: We don't know jack

  • Basically, clone Netscape 8's one remarkable feature: Allow Firefox to use the Internet Explorer rendering engine already built into windows. Optionally, of course, and only on webpages chosen by the user. But the mere ability to view a few pages with ActiveX and IE rendering is amazingly helpful for those few sites that still don't work in Gecko.

    Don't get me wrong - I love Firefox, and especially the standards compliance and power of the Gecko rendering engine. But if Firefox is to true beat IE, it need
  • This'll fly about as well as a lead zeppelin...

    The only advantage Firefox has over other browsers is in it's built in extensibility capabilities, and thats the one area where it's going to ultimately end up shooting itself in the foot, if it ever becomes popular enough.

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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