Mozilla Messaging folds into Mozilla Labs

From the ‘open source #Fail’ files:

Back in 2008, Mozilla announced the formation of Mozilla Messaging.

It was supposed to be an effort that was going to propel Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client to the same level of adoption and interest as Firefox.

It failed.

Three years later, Thunderbird and Mozilla Messaging have not lived up to the initial hope of Mozilla Messaging. I don’t think that Mozilla Messaging ever achieved the market adoption they hoped for and I don’t think they ever figured out a revenue model either.

So now, Mozilla is merging Mozilla Messaging with the Mozilla Labs effort, which has been a wonderful incubator for marvelous ideas like Weave (now Sync), Tab Candy (now Firefox Panorama) and other solid projects (including Prism which is now part of Chromeless).

“Mozilla has been exploring new ways to put people in control of
their online communications and social interactions for a couple of
years now,” Mozilla’s Chief Lizard Wrangler Mitchell Baker blogged. ” We currently have two teams.  One is the team at Mozilla
Messaging, which produces Thunderbird and messaging innovations such as Raindrop and F1.  The second team is within Mozilla Labs, and has been working on identity, contacts and related topics. We intend to combine the two teams to increase our effectiveness.
 Practically this means we’ll be integrating Mozilla Messaging with 

Mozilla Labs.”

I’m not surprised that Mozilla has given up on making a business out of Messaging as a standalone. Though Thunderbird is a decent application, the reality of the modern web is that many messaging is a more complex and in some cases commoditized business.

After all, Cisco gave up on its own Mail product, Cisco Mail (which was based on the Linux powered PostPath app) this year too.

The other thing that never quite emerged with Thunderbird is the same kind of exciting feature sets that Firefox has been working on. Firefox 4 for example debuts a long list of innovative new features and takes advantage of the latest in web standards. Thunderbird on the other hand, well….I haven’t even been able to get anyone at Mozilla Messaging to give me a comment on other there releases.

I don’t think that email is necessarily boring, it’s just that the web has shifted to the browser and to native mobile apps as the direction for innovation.

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