September 10, 2008
Just a quick update on some of the activities going on in the partnership space…
There are a couple of initiatives in play. First, we’re developing a long term plan that would set goals for the partnership function, and more importantly a framework to consistently evaluate new opportunities so that we can direct our efforts in the areas that will yield the greatest impact. We’ll need to answer questions like: are there partners that can support new services and features (like in Labs) that we should engage with? which distribution channels (if any) create the best distribution in a manner that’s consistent with our values? are there other revenue models we should consider? which ones are compatible with our values and make a positive difference? how are they prioritized? etc.
In all cases, the priorities we’re driven by are: i) advancing the mission – be it user experience, features, functionality, or values; ii) distribution – getting the Mozilla goodness to not only those who want it but also to those who need it; and iii) sustainability – making sure we have the resources to continue to make an impact 5, 10, and 15 years out. Note, this doesn’t mean every partnership has to serve all needs, although mission is paramount and no engagement should detract from the mission. It also doesn’t mean all distribution is driven solely via partnerships (there are many other product and marketing initiatives across the project that make a huge difference). In this phase, I’d also expect we’re going to be somewhat in a trial and error mode (hopefully less error) to find the best models and partnerships that provide the greatest return with the least drag.
The second involves tuning the parameters that define how we engage with partners. Historically, we’ve allowed some changes to Firefox distributed via 3rd parties, but we haven’t updated those criteria lately. As market dynamics have changed over the years, we need to make sure that we’re protecting the right aspects (user experience, functionality, UI, values, and features that define Firefox and the brand) and making room to accommodate partner needs in areas that are less important and that do not compromise the brand. Obviously, that’s a much longer discussion. Margaret Tallman and Kev Needham are leading this effort and soliciting feedback on a draft proposal. I’d expect a a draft set of partner guidelines to be shared soon for broader input.
Finally, we’ll be updating our customized partner distributions from 2.x to 3.0.2. There are approximately 20 distributions in several locales that should be updated prior to the release of 3.1. With the major update for our general release completed, and the impending release of 3.0.2, we’re ready to go. We’ll be working with QA and the Release Engineering team to prepare, test, and deploy major updates to those partner distributions in October. If there are questions pertaining to the Partner Major Updates, please contact Kev Needham (kev at mozilla dot com).
More to come…ideas and input welcome.