The Future of the Bird

Thunderbird that is. According to this post by Mitchell Baker, the Thunderbird product is not getting enough love, and I totally agree. Having thought about the topic a little, I think one of the better solutions is to break Thunderbird off and create the Thunderbird Foundation. Although I don't have a business background, or even a deep connection to the Thunderbird movement, here is my reasoning.

- Thunderbird is a powerful product but the shadow that <a href="http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/">Firefox</a> and the infamous <a href="http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/default.aspx">Outlook</a> cast is dark and long. While many know of Thunderbird's existence, it is not a mainstream product the way Firefox is. Creating a separate foundation will, in theory, promote much needed hype and help Thunderbird establish itself more as it's own product and not the bastard child of Firefox.</li>
- In terms of Outlook, Thunderbird has heavy competition. Outlook is one of those applications that works well enough, but it is so widely used, especially in the business world  that many users aren't realizing it's potential. I believe that if Thunderbird gets moved to it's own foundation, it could have the opportunity to have more money and people thrown at it, not too many mind you, and become a more professional app.</li>

There are some downsides to this too, and if you see any I miss, I would love your input. For example, depending on how this split works out, the association with the well known name Mozilla may disappear. This could be good or bad. from a power user standpoint, I know that there will be good developers coming from a strong team to keep the project going. But if for say a government group or a large company associated with the technology spectrum were to think of adopting it, some might be scared because of having no big name backing it. We must remember that there are companies that still believe in the idea that since microsoft makes it, it must be good and everything we own will stop working if we don't use their products.

Overall though, I think Thunderbird has a shot as long as something is done. While I feel creating a new foundation will help Thunderbird's largest problems, overall market share and general use in the professional market, there is a possibility that the other suggestions Mitchell made will do a better job. Discussions need to happen, and a decision needs to be made, sometime this year hopefully.

Thanks to the infamous Matt for bringing this to my attention.

And as a side note on how big Firefox's shadow is, look at the Mozilla Home Page. The page is 85% Firefox, and 15% Thunderbird. Along with that, if you are on the Thunderbird page, and click on the link to add-ons, the add-ons page that shows up is the Firefox add-ons page. There isn't even a link to the Thunderbird add-ons page. Plus a few of the other links on the Thunderbird page refer to Firefox stuff.