Mozilla plays on distrust, enthusiasm for launch of Firefox browser

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: The release of Mozilla's Firefox web browser exceeded expectations this month, thanks to PR initiatives tapping into two key emotions - enthusiasm and distrust.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: The release of Mozilla's Firefox web browser exceeded expectations this month, thanks to PR initiatives tapping into two key emotions - enthusiasm and distrust.

The open-source software community had already eagerly anticipated the release of Firefox, which many believe will help put open-source software on the map.

But other potential customers existed, such as those who distrusted Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which dominates the browser market with a 90% share. Security bugs and spyware often specifically target Microsoft's browser, resulting in frequently frustrated users.

So SparkPR, Mozilla's PR firm, reached out to a diverse group of internet, tech, business, and consumer media. The key messages centered on Firefox moving the open-source industry forward, while giving even the most casual internet user a respite from Internet Explorer, said SAE Colin Crook.

When Firefox became available for free download on November 9, a rush of interested users left all but 45% of them unsuccessful, according to CNET. And for those who did access the site, they found it slow-going. Still, more than 1 million successfully downloaded the browser that first day.

Mozilla touted such features as pop-up blocking and fraud protection that it had hoped would attract the average internet user, who might not get excited by - much less understand - open-source software.

"The media has been interested in this because of the attention to open-source software and Microsoft," said Crook. "But we also want people to know that just because Internet Explorer comes bundled with your PC doesn't mean you have to use it."

"We've really talked about the innovation and usability of Firefox," he added. "And while there is a certain cool factor, we've [focused instead on the] lack of innovation in this market until now."

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