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Mozilla CEO John Lilly Speaks Out on Google Chrome & Mozilla Firefox

"I’m Very Optimistic About the Future of Mozilla"

John Lilly's Blog

Interesting developments in the browser world lately. Between the new beta of IE8 and Google releasing the beta of their new browser (called “Chrome”), not to mention interesting work by the Mozilla team here as well, there’s as much happening as I can ever remember.

Let’s start from there: more smart people thinking about ways to make the Web good for normal human beings is good, absolutely. Competition often results in innovation of one sort or another — in the browser you can see that this is true in spades this year, with huge Javascript performance increases, security process advances, and user interface breakthroughs. I’d expect that to continue now that Google has thrown their hat in the ring.

It should come as no real surprise that Google has done something here — their business is the web, and they’ve got clear opinions on how things should be, and smart people thinking about how to make things better. Chrome will be a browser optimized for the things that they see as important, and it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves.

Having said that, it’s worth addressing a couple of questions that folks will no doubt have.

1. How does this affect Mozilla? As much as anything else, it’ll mean there’s another interesting browser that users can choose. With IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc — there’s been competition for a while now, and this increases that. So it means that more than ever, we need to build software that people care about and love. Firefox is good now, and will keep on getting better.

2. What does this mean for Mozilla’s relationship with Google? Mozilla and Google have always been different organizations, with different missions, reasons for existing, and ways of doing things. I think both organizations have done much over the last few years to improve and open the Web, and we’ve had very good collaborations that include the technical, product, and financial. On the technical side of things, we’ve collaborated most recently on Breakpad, the system we use for crash reports — stuff like that will continue. On the product front, we’ve worked with them to implement best-in-class anti-phishing and anti-malware that we’ve built into Firefox, and looks like they’re building into Chrome. On the financial front, as has been reported lately, we’ve just renewed our economic arrangement with them through November 2011, which means a lot for our ability to continue to invest in Firefox and in new things like mobile and services.

So all those aligned efforts should continue. And similarly, the parts where we’re different, with different missions, will continue to be separate. Mozilla’s mission is to keep the Web open and participatory — so, uniquely in this market, we’re a public-benefit, non-profit group (Mozilla Corporation is wholly owned by the Mozilla Foundation) with no other agenda or profit motive at all. We’ll continue to be that way, we’ll continue to develop our products & technology in an open, community-based, collaborative way.

With that backdrop, it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the coming months and years. I personally think Firefox 3 is an incredibly great browser — the best anywhere — and we’re seeing millions of people start using it every month. It’s based on technology that shows incredible compatibility across the broad web — technology that’s been tweaked and improved over a period of years.

And we’ve got a truckload of great stuff queued up for Firefox 3.1 and beyond — things like open video and an amazing next-generation Javascript engine (TraceMonkey) for 3.1, to name a couple. And beyond that, lots of breakthroughs like Weave, Ubiquity, and Firefox Mobile. And even more that are unpredictable — the strength of Mozilla has always come from the community that’s built it, from core code to the thousands of extensions that are available for Firefox.

So even in a more competitive environment than ever, I’m very optimistic about the future of Mozilla and the future of the open Web.

More Stories By John Lilly

John Lilly is CEO of Mozilla Corporation. He joined Mozilla in 2005 as Vice President of Business Development, and, since 2006, served as COO and a member of the Board of Directors. Prior to this, Lilly was the founder, CEO, CTO and VP of products for Reactivity, a software company acquired by Cisco Systems in 2007. Previously, he held staff positions at Apple, Sun Microsystems and Trilogy Software. Lilly has been an active participant in open source projects, serving on the boards of the Open Source Applications Foundation and Participatory Culture Foundation. He earned a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in computer science from Stanford University.

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