Interview: The future of Firefox

Tristan Nitot - President of Mozilla Europe
Tristan Nitot - President of Mozilla Europe

In the course of TechRadar's interview with Mozilla Europe President Tristan Nitot tells us that there is an internal joke doing the rounds.

'We ask 'What browser are we most proud of?'," he reveals. "And the answer is 'the latest Internet Explorer'.

It's a light-hearted poke at Microsoft from Nitot - who confesses that he has been impressed by IE8 and feels that it is a step in the right direction - but the note of pride in just how much Mozilla's browser has affected the market is a gleaming thread running through our entire conversation.

TechRadar, in our series of interviews with the makers of the key browsers, caught up with Nitot to ask just how Mozilla was dealing with a fifth of the market share and Firefox 3.5 impressing in beta.

TechRadar: Why do you think Firefox is flourishing and what are you doing to keep up the rate of growth against the likes of Internet Explorer 8?

Tristan Nitot: I would say it's the internet by the people for the people. It's really a browser made by the users for the user. We're here to serve the users and that's our top priority. We don't have a hidden agenda, we're not here to maximize profits, we're here to serve users. I think people, whether they know what open source is or not, feel through the product that it is made for them.

We are working on something that we call 'open innovation' represented by Mozilla Labs. That's a way to make formal something that already exists; the fact that our community builds so many extensions. There are thousands of them targeting niche needs, and that's totally fine, and some of them are just wonderful because we see people scratching their own itches and we realise that these needs are almost universal.

Mozilla labs - making things formal

The session restore system – to have the ability to restart Firefox after a crash and all tabs are open again – that's the kind of thing that existed in an extension and we brought into the product itself.

It's a no-brainer in the sense that you don't have anything to learn. Innovation is coming from the community - we have extended this notion… and with something like [Mozilla's extension development experiment] Jet Pack although there are thousands of people who write extensions we want to address an even larger base of potential contributors.

Jet Pack enables web developers who use HTML and CSS to write extensions without having anything more to learn. We're enlarging our user base and the potential for ideas at the same time.

In short, it is our very open nature that is enabling us to stay ahead

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.