Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker has admitted that Thunderbird is to be booted out of the Mozilla camp in order to allow “the Thunderbird community to determine its own destiny” apparently. Put through my patented BS translator this produced “Thunderbird brings us no revenue, gets a bad press whether compared to Outlook or Gmail, and anyway Firefox is our future.”
Although Mozilla has stated it is looking for a new and separate organizational setting for Thunderbird, the writing really does look to be on the wall for the client. As much as I want to like it, and have in the past praised it for daring to be different, the truth is that while Firefox has generated the revenue required to allow the Mozilla Foundation to create something that truly has the ability to shake up the browser client market (and has already done so to a limited extent), Thunderbird has stagnated into just another desktop email client at a time when people are moving away from the same.
Indeed, despite the reported 5 million users of the software, Thunderbird is increasingly looking like the Billy No Mates of the email world. And Firefox is at least to blame as it makes finding and using free web based email services that much easier and rewarding. Gmail has pretty much got the spam situation sorted, unlike Thunderbird which requires plenty of out of the box training to achieve a barely adequate level of Bayesian filter protection. The bigger email hitters, work at home professionals and the business world, look to Microsoft Outlook with its calendaring and organizational capabilities. Again, Thunderbird just cannot compete even with the promise of Mozilla Sunbird.
Baker talks of perhaps releasing Thunderbird in the wild, letting the community continue to develop the project in a similar way as the SeaMonkey suite. The what, do I hear you ask? Exactly. SeaMonkey is what is left of what was Mozilla before Firefox eclipsed all before it. An integrated suite of online applications that, frankly, nobody wants. Maybe, then, this is the right way to go with Thunderbird after all…