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Weave is Firefox is SeaMonkey is Confusing Me

The recent news that Weave Sync is being rebranded suddenly made me being a GSoC mentor for Firefox Sync. Now, I'm not at all unhappy with doing work for something branded Firefox.
I actually have been contributing a few small patches to code that is specific to the desktop browser of that name, and have been spreading the word on local conferences as much about Firefox as about SeaMonkey and Mozilla in general. After all, the (desktop) browser of that name is serving all of us a huge job in spreading the Mozilla mission, making the web better and being a simple and cool solution for a majority of people, while e.g. SeaMonkey is serving a niche (and at that, one that Firefox isn't covering so easily).

Still, I'm more and more getting marketing-wise confused about the brand "Firefox". For a few years, it was very clear what it meant, now for some time the product- and usage-wise very different desktop and mobile browsers share that name, but there the argument still was that both have the same web-facing functionality and both are trying to be the best mass-market browser for the computers (devices) they run on. Now, the story has become even more complicated in my eyes.

The project I'm mentoring in Google's Summer of Code aims to make Sync's tab synchronization fully work with SeaMonkey and add the ability to synchronize mailnews metadata, e.g. which newsgroup messages or feed entries have been read or which tags are applied to which messages. If you want to know more, I'd advise you to read Harini's blog, where she's talking about her progress on that work in this summer.

Now, the fun is in the marketing message when I'm talking about this: Synchronizing mailnews metadata with Firefox Sync in SeaMonkey. Oh, wait, or is it SeaMonkey Sync now? Or is the product now to be called Firefox once Sync is installed?

I'm really confused marketing-wise.
I hope this is only me, as I want us to have strong messages for our users and not dilute our brands (like the Firefox one!) with such confusion.

Still, on the work front, things are continuing as planned, and we'll try to make Sync a first-class solution that allows people to switch between multiple computers, SeaMonkey, Firefox, and Thunderbird, desktop and mobile, and have all applicable data synchronized and with them wherever they go.

And, I guess, once Sync gets integrated into the platform (which seems to be the plan), it will not need its own identity and brand and the confusion just will go away by itself.

(As always, note that my statements - as passionate as they sometimes may sound - are never meant to be offensive and just are expressing personal opinions, giving food for thought, and/or testing arguments that could just as well come up from other parts of the community. Don't take them as stumbling blocks, just as stepping stones.)

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on May 20th, 2010 13:43 | Tags: Firefox, GSoC, Mozilla, SeaMonkey, Sync | 16 comments

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    AuthorEntry

    Pete

    quote
    Firefox Brand
    For end users like my mom, Firefox is the brand. They never heard of Mozilla. So, it's logical to focus this. I mean, Mozilla focused on Firefox since a couple of years. Sadly projects like Thunderbird or Seamonkey don't get the attention they deserve.
    I think it's a big management mistake because right now, when Webkit gains more and more market share, we'll see that Firefox alone can't compete against it. But Mozilla decided to kill Gecko as a platform...
    2010-05-20 14:25

    Misak

    quote
    I think that the Mozilla should use brand Mozilla for such cases, so Mozilla Sync looks ok for me.
    2010-05-20 14:37

    Pavel Cvr?ek

    from Pilsen, Czech Republic

    quote
    Way of discussion
    Robert, is there any dicussion about your disagreement? In other words, did you start discussion about it in some place where Weave development is discussed? I don't think comments below blogposts. Why am I talking about? Because I think that discussion about such things is better to do on right place. I'm not sure that your blog is right place for such discussion (although it's more visible).
    2010-05-20 15:23

    Pete

    quote
    Place for discussion
    Pavel: Why shouldn't he post in his own blog. As far as I know, Mozilla still is (isn't it?) a community based organization where discussions like these should happen in the public.
    2010-05-20 15:56

    Michael Lefevre

    quote
    Well it makes no sense for Seamonkey or Thunderbird to include "Firefox Sync", so I guess it will have to have different names there.

    But I wonder if it makes any difference if Weave loses its own identity. From a marketing point of view, "Firefox Sync" can be marketed when it's new. As and when it becomes an established part of Firefox, it will just be thought of as the sync function that's part of Firefox. Same for the other apps. It means that Weave loses its own identity, but I don't know if that matters - people might use Firefox (or Seamonkey) because it has Weave, but it seems unlikely that Weave could be marketed separately, so that people would go to a "Weave product" and from there decide to download and start using a Mozilla browser.
    2010-05-20 16:08

    KaiRo

    Webmaster

    quote
    Pavel:
    This is just a way to make a note about my confusion. This hasn't been discussed publicly before it happened, AFAIK, so I can only take the decision for granted and that's it. I have no idea where else I could have reasonably discussed it, and I think there's no way it would change anyhow.

    Michael:
    Well, what you say is exactly one reason why I'm confused marketing-wise. The add-on is now rebranded, and that means we need to refer people to install "Firefox Sync" in SeaMonkey and Thunderbird if they want this functionality, as that's what it's called now!
    2010-05-20 16:15

    Tony Mechelynck

    from Brussels, Belgium

    quote
    The various kinds of confusion mentioned in the above comments are nothing new, I think. Some years ago, every time I started my new Netscape 6, a splash popup appeared in the middle of my desktop saying "Gecko". I had no idea what "Gecko" meant then, I think some people thought it was the new name of Netscape, others thought it was some kind of bootstrap utility whose role was to bring Netscape up to speed, but to me the browser-and-mailer was still "Netscape". I have learnt a few things since then, I have a better idea what "Gecko" means but I'm still unsure of where its boundaries are: is Toolkit part of Gecko? And what about NSS and NSPR? I don't know. Back then, the word "Gecko" had great visibility, maybe because it was new. But where is Gecko now? Oh wait, under Help=>About there's a long string of gobbledygook at the bottom, which starts with "Mozilla/5.0" and ends with "Gecko" followed by a slash and a string of digits. (I know that string of gobbledygook is called the User Agent but my granny wouldn't.) Not very self-explanatory to the layperson, but the name is still there.
    2010-05-20 17:49

    InvisibleSmiley

    from Frankfurt, Germany

    quote
    I think the decision makes perfect sense from FF's POV. If it'd be doable easily I'd even call it SeaMonkey Sync and Thunderbird Sync at the same time, depending on the application it gets installed in. This should be possible code-wise. The problem here is AMO I guess, which is the primary add-on site for users. I'd be surprised if it allowed different names for the same add-on, depending on the chosen application. If it doesn't then SM and TB users will see it as and will have to search for Firefox Sync since it's unreasonable to have (to maintain) multiple versions of the same add-on. Which is, in any way, unfortunate, to say the least. :-(

    Bummer, I really like the look and sound of "SeaMonkey Sync".
    2010-05-20 23:56

    auscompgeek

    quote
    If Weave gets renamed for each app, it will confuse us even more, as we can sync between each app...
    2010-05-21 00:18

    Tony Mechelynck

    from Brussels, Belgium

    quote
    It's being called Weave all over the place, but apparently the «official name» the PR guys bestowed on it is not Weave but Firefox Sync. Why couldn't they call it Weave? Another confusing move, and not new either: once upon a time, everyone used to call the Suite Seamonkey (with a small m) but the People in Power insisted that its rightful name was the Mozilla Suite.
    2010-05-21 07:34

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