05 September 2006

Baby Boomers and Firefox

Sarah Lacy's latest piece in Businessweek is all about Mozilla's Firefox:
"But as Mozilla prepares for the October release of the next version of Firefox, the group is facing its biggest challenge yet: Going mainstream. Firefox's share of the market, however impressive, has been flat after rapid growth in 2004 and 2005. Analysts say that's because Mozilla has largely reached the natural Firefox constituency-hip college students, Microsoft haters, and tech geeks."
I use Firefox. However, I'm not in one of the demos above: I have no beef with Microsoft (in fact, I wrote some copy for them a loooooong time ago), I'm not a hip college student, I'm hardly a tech geek - although I know my way around a computer and the internet.

Firefox is simply a better browser. In some ways, it's much better. Using tabs along with their scrapbook feature is the best way to gather and store web-based info, and the extensions make virtual life easier and are easy to install. I get a kick out of sifting through the available extensions. It's obvious that the open-source developers are having a blast creating them.

But as the article says:
"Mozilla's order will only get taller once Microsoft releases the latest version of Internet Explorer, now available in test mode. The new Microsoft browser already contains many of the innovations that have set Firefox apart … Some fear Firefox could even lose market share."
Here is where Mozilla will really stumble - their patronizing dismissal of Baby Boomers and older:
"There are more than 63 million baby boomers and 25 million senior citizens online, and Mozilla figures the best way to reach them is for their more tech-savvy kids or relatives to install Firefox for them."
I've blogged about this before:

My Favorite Cyber-Myth

Baby Boomers Burst Online

The computer/internet ethos for most Baby Boomers is that they pick and choose what technology they want to use, buy, or install. Some are all over Skype, video and music uploading and downloading, research, education, travel planning, shopping - while eschewing blogging, communities, and web page design. Or it's the other way around. Or variations thereof. When it comes to new technology, most Baby Boomers only learn about what interests them. They don't feel the need to know everything about computers and the web.

Mozilla should make a case for Baby Boomers to choose Firefox. And there are tons of reasons for Boomers to do so. Aside from the Firefox features, most Boomers would identify with and champion a bunch of rebellious folk that questions authority and the status quo and created a product out of love and not for profit. We’ve always liked idealistic troublemakers.

I might be willing to join in and do a bit of free Firefox evangelizing - maybe by writing some copy explaining in down-to-earth language the advantages of Firefox. It would appear to be age-neutral copy, but in a style that Baby Boomers would find appealing and relevant. I could also offer some WOM and media planning advice, since media buyers/planners probably won't be much help.

But sadly … because I'm over fifty, I'm too much of a technological luddite to figure out how to find Mozilla on the web and email them. I'll have to wait until some 'tech-savvy kid' comes over so he/she can do it for me.

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