Mozilla is ready to set the Thunderbird Free. The folks behind the Firefox browser are spinning out its email client as a separate company that will receive $3 million in seed funding from the Mozilla Corp. David Ascher, currently CTO and VP Engineering of ActiveState will […]

thunderbird-logo_small.pngMozilla is ready to set the Thunderbird Free. The folks behind the Firefox browser are spinning out its email client as a separate company that will receive $3 million in seed funding from the Mozilla Corp. David Ascher, currently CTO and VP Engineering of ActiveState will run the new venture. The new company will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Mozilla Corp.

mitchellbaker.gifOur sources say that none of the Thunderbird developers are currently going to be working for the new company. Mozilla officials say that it is a decision the Thunderbird developers will make on their own. We chatted with Mitchell Baker, chair of Mozilla Foundation to get the low down.

“We have been thinking about what to do with the project,” said Baker, “And decided this was the right move to give it more focus.” Mozilla wants to focus on Firefox and the browser opportunity, she said. There have been very public complaints about bloat coming back to Firefox and lack of innovation.

“Thunderbird is a solid client and has an active user base, but we feel it can be more than just an email client,” she said. Thunderbird needs to thrive on its own, she pointed out. In comparison with Firefox, Thunderbird seems to be a step child and gets much fewer resources from Mozilla.

Ascher believes that Thunderbird could eventually evolve into a new kind of internet communications client that becomes a hub for aggregating various communication-and-interaction tools such as Twitter and Facebook alerts. I had outlined the concept of such a client in one of my columns for Business 2.0.

A smart inbox would — all in one interface — catch spam in junk filters, display the wine reminder in an IM, move company news to an RSS feed, and intelligently negotiate appointment requests with your calendar in the background.

Further thoughts on this and how email needs to innovate in near future.

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  1. Asa Dotzler – Firefox and more Monday, September 17, 2007

    mozilla makes major new investment in mail and messaging

    In case you hadn’t read the news, Mozilla’s making a major new investment in email and messaging. If you want to learn more, Mitchell’s blog is a good place to start. If you still have questions, you can join us this Wednesday when Mitchell and Davi…

  2. Looks like, Thunderbird is going to take over the email client market soon. But as of now its features are not that much.

  3. Thunderbird Organization Established — MailCo – CyberNet News Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    [...] Mozilla Press Release, GigaOM & Mozilla [...]

  4. What’s the Deal? » Mozilla’s Thunderbird spinoff: great idea Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    [...] why I think Mozilla’s Thunderbird spinoff is a win-win for everybody. Mozilla understood the opportunity it had, but also understood that it [...]

  5. Asa Dotzler – Firefox and more Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    air mozilla live with mozilla’s new messaging ceo

    Tomorrow’s Air Mozilla Live will be focused on the recent announcements around Mozilla’s increasing investment in email and messaging. We’ll have both Mitchell Baker, Chairman of the Board, and David Ascher, the CEO of Mozilla’s new messaging compa…

  6. Hello:

    I have used mozilla browser but, I am still currently using internet explorer.

    I still IE more simple and easier to use, plus it think mozilla has alot of code errors.

  7. i am expecting great things from these guys, though i should temper my expectations. on the positive, they have the right under pinnings of what could be an interesting next generation email client.

  8. links for 2007-09-19 « Zero influence Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    [...] Mozilla To Spin Out Thunderbird As A Company « GigaOM Mozilla as a platfoem debate gets louder. One to watch. (tags: application mozilla open-source opensource thunderbird company email datama) Posted by zeroinfluencer Filed in Authentic Media [...]

  9. I think Mozilla is putting a happy spin on this for the Thunderbird user base (of which I am one), but the truth is that dedicated e-mail clients are likely to soon go the way of dedicated NNTP clients — useful, but something you might not use everyday. Web-based e-mail is poised to be the primary interface. The reason for this is that more and more of us use multiple computers every single day (home, work, smartphone) and we’d like the e-mail for all of them to be in sync. Sure, this could be done with standalone clients and IMAP, but only if your mail server supports IMAP and most of us do not have access to such a thing for personal e-mail. Even for small businesses, it makes more sense to use GMail or Yahoo rather than run your own server and again that means no IMAP. I think the future of e-mail for the masses is web interface as your primary client, with widgets/plugins to notify you of new mail and archive messages for offline viewing.

  10. Outsourcing your email provision to a specialist company makes a lot more sense – I use a webhost that does good IMAP, as it happens, but there are people who swear by Fastmail, because all they do is email. Either way, you get the best of both worlds – webmail and IMAP, so you can efficiently grab your email and read it offline on smartphone, MID, etc.

    The bandwidth and screen required for webmail (and the time to fire up a laptop) is not always there – if you travel a lot, frequently you have only a lower bandwidth wireless connection, IMAP is the way to go, along with a mail client. If the Foleo returns and/or MIDs take off, that could help webmail somewhat, but only if the bandwidth is easily available.

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