Stop me if this sounds like you. Everytime I load Firefox on a new computer I think to myself:
"Hah, I'm giving it to the man. Sticking him in the back. I'm gonna show him who's boss."
Then I remember: I am the man.
Ahh, that's an interesting position to be in. :-)
By the way, one of the research tools I use is Google News. For instance, here's a search on Firefox over at Google News. You can see what all the press is writing about a story. MSN has a similar feature called Newsbot. Here's a search on Newsbot for Firefox.
So, anyway, what am I learning from Firefox?
1) The bar for word-of-mouth advertising now is about six million downloads in a few weeks if you have a hot product. In 1996 that bar was set by ICQ with only 65,000 downloads in the same period of time.
2) When you get customers excited about your product they'll do anything for you, including sending you half a million bucks so you can buy advertising. Another example? The Halo 2 customers stood in line in cold New York for hours just to buy a copy.
3) Security -- or the perception of having security -- is now a driver. It's why Microsoft is spending so much time on security now.
4) Shipping continues to be a feature. The team that ships more features faster will get customers to move. Maybe not everyone at once, but they will get adoption and momentum.
5) Having customers who are wildly enthusiastic makes having any discussion about features difficult. I haven't seen anyone in the past two months discuss anything about browsers calmly.
6) A team that can't ship the features themselves can call on third-party developers to do what they can't.
Well, that's it for me. Now back to my RSS aggregator. One last thing, though. To be honest, in the first month of using my new Tablet PC, I used Internet Explorer and didn't feel compelled to install Firefox. Firefox doesn't support the Tablet PC as well as IE does, by the way, which is a major reason I'm not using Firefox as often as I might. But I'm using the browser less and less. And I enjoy using Firefox and Opera too. Part of my job is keeping up on the competition. The geek in me likes trying new technology. Just talk to me, or Chris Pirillo, sometime about Maxthon or Optimal Access.
While reading RSS feeds (no, I don't use Firefox for that) I saw the Mobile Technology Weblog asking who's "the most important man in advertising?"
Hey, I'm not an advertiser, I'm just trying to stick it to the man.
Anyway, my wife reminds me she's more important than I am, which is why I'm going to the mall with her. Try to keep me out of the Apple store. Try!
By the way, I really don't understand why the press thinks there's a browser war underway. The real war is between RSS and HTML. At the recent Gnomedex conference about 80% of the attendees said they were using a news aggregator. That's a HUGE shift in behavior and has far deeper consequences than a browser choice does.