I was at the Computer History Museum the other day, and I stumbled upon this picture of the Netscape executive team, taken back in the days of 1997. We can see Eric Hahn, Mike Homer, Marc Andreesseen, Rick Schell and Jim Barksdale (left to right). It made me remember of one of my favorite quotes on marketing, initially said by Mike Homer (then head of Marketing) and that Jim Barksdale (then CEO) used as one of his famous sayings. Here it is:

When we have an idea, we put it on the Web site. If it works, we call it "a product". If it fails, we call it "market research".

I think this definitely relates to Web applications, but it also resonates with the way the Mozilla project uses the extension eco-system.

When I was doing that press tour in Europe with Chris Beard, he used the notion of extensions being used as a virtual R&D space: the most successful extensions may eventually be integrated into the product. Mike Homer's idea would become this:

When the community has an idea, it makes it become reality as an extension. If it's successful, we put it into the product. If it fails, we call it market research (or just one more way to give power users the flexibility they want without messing with the consumer user-experience).

Ok, that definitely does not sound as cool as Mike Homer's sentence, but I think it's still very powerful as a model. In a future post, I'll be discussing "Fighting Featuritis", which relates to the fact that Firefox is popular also thanks to its simplicity.

Update: Ed Dumbill (of XTech fame) thinks that this is worth an XTech talk :-)