The Mozilla Foundation: Launching Firefox 1.0 (A)

MBA 505 Case Questions

(1)    In the “Browser Wars” Microsoft took the browser market away from Netscape by giving the browser away for free.  (a) How do they justify this behavior as a profit-making enterprise?  (b) How do they expect to produce a return on this investment?  (c) Explain the implications for firms that need to develop software that is compatible with browser software.

(2)    AOL, IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus) all invested money in Mozilla.  In fact, AOL invested $4.2 billion to acquire Netscape, funded internal development of the Mozilla software, and then contributed significant intellectual property from these efforts to Mozilla.  (a) How do these investments impact the ability of the organization to remain “open”?  (b) How does Mozilla expect to produce a return for these “investors”?  (c) Is this a good deal for the investors of AOL, IBM, and Sun Microsystems?  Please explain your conclusion. 

(3)    Mozilla needs to make some important decisions prior to launch regarding the default start page and the default search engine.  This decision might also provide an opportunity to monetize the browser and supply funds required for continued marketing and development.  (a) Explain the dilemma faced by the organization.  (b) What do you think that they should do and why?

(4)    Open source is an important piece of the online software eco-system today.  Applications from Linux (operating system), to MySQL (database), to Sugar CRM (CRM), to Firefox (browser), and many others are widely used to reduce costs and improve productivity.  (a) Explain the concept of an open source community.  (b) How do these firms justify this investment?  (c) What kind of a return are the members of the community hope to receive for their contributions?