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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mozilla Messaging Takes Flight

David Ascher announced on his blog the name of the new Mozilla spin-out that will focus on developing and marketing the Thunderbird email client. Mozilla Messaging, the new company, will take Thunderbird to new heights.

Despite all this initial enthusiasm, there are some larger questions that need to be answered: such as is there really a need for another desktop email/calendar/PIM software client? Does the rise in popularity of Gmail and hosted collaboration apps negate the need for thick clients? and can Mozilla Messaging succeed where the Chandler Project could not? Maybe.

Chandler is an ambitious open source project to create an alternative to Outlook. Thunderbird has the same mission statement, but a better code base and an actual shipping product, with a world-wide audience. Chandler has yet to ship v1.0 after many years in development. So they are behind in terms of a real audience. The Thunderbird audience of enthusiastic users is definitely a plus for Mozilla Messaging.

With Web 2.0 getting a lot of attention these days, desktop client software should be thought of, in a larger sense, as connected to a web service component for easier data portability and accessibility. This is the real power Mozilla could bring to messaging: totally up-end the e-communications market with a slick cross-platform client connected to a hosted infrastructure that offers server-based processing and centralized content storage, all from a user-centric view point, not tied to one specific service provider. Marrying Thunderbird to a "personal" cloud-compute account seems very interesting.

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