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Shame on Mozilla

Well, it's come to this: Like one-time innovator AMD before it, Mozilla has no Act 2, and they're consigned to just copying features from their dominant competitor, a sad about-face for a company previously known for doing The Right Thing.

[W]ebslices [sic] and [A]ctivites [sic]
Just in case the power of the Firefox platform wasn't obvious already, check out the Web Slices work from Daniel Glazman and the Activities work Mike Kaply's doing.

Here's my problem with what these guys are doing (copying the Web Slices and Activities features from IE 8, and then acting like this is a strength of the Mozilla platform): This is what Linux does: Copy features (from Windows and the Mac, in that case) without adding additional value. Here's why this is a problem: If all you're doing is spending time copying what's already on the competition, then what you're not doing is spending time on differentiating yourself. In the case of Linux, backers of this OS should be spending time making Linux unique and valuable, not derivative and almost-as-good. People won't switch to similar, they'll switch to better. It has to be much better.

Back when IE lacked key functionality, Mozilla's Firefox delivered in droves: We got tabbed browsing, inline find, and other innovative features. That made Firefox unique and valuable. It got millions of people to switch, including me.

Copying features--as Microsoft did with IE 7, though to be fair, they did add some unique features too (Quick Tags, anyone? Yeah, this was copied on Firefox too)--is about preventing people from leaving, not about innovating and driving new users. And that's lame. Mozilla should be above this. I find it hard to believe that a feature like Activities--which was once called Smart Tags and was widely reviled as anti-privacy and dangerous when Microsoft first tried to implement this technology years ago--is so useful today that Mozilla just has to have it. In fact, I think these guys should spend maybe, oh I don't know, more than 3 days thinking about it before just delivering this feature. It's pathetic.

My point is simple. Innovation should be celebrated. It's what makes things like Firefox 1.0 and virtually every Apple product on earth so interesting. Copying is lame. (Zune, cough.) And while virtually everyone who rallies around Mozilla and Firefox has probably spent some time riffing on Microsoft's inability to innovate and it's all-too-willing ability to copy, they should be turning the same critical eye on the people who, right now, are just copying.

Shame on you.

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