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1/15/2009
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Mozilla Updates Firefox Tool Ubiquity

Version 1.5 includes command memory and command matching that functions similarly to the Firefox 3 "Awesome Bar."

For Mozilla, projects like Ubiquity are likely to be critical for maintaining Firefox's market share in the face of efforts by Apple, Google, and Microsoft to increase usage of their respective browsers.

Mozilla, however, prefers not to see browser development in the context of business competition. "Mozilla is a public-benefit organization," said Raskin in an e-mail. "We are about making the open Web a better place for people to work, play, and communicate. There is no long-term advantage to feature differentiation -- the best features will end up in all browsers. With products like Ubiquity, and with Mozilla continuing to lead in innovation, that means the open Web will be fundamentally better for everyone."

The challenge for Mozilla is finding users beyond tech-savvy early-adopters. According to Mozilla, about 200,000 people are using Ubiquity daily and hundreds of people have been involved in creating new commands.

To address that challenge, Mozilla has been studying Ubiquity's usability. "The most important part of getting people to use Ubiquity (after getting them to install it) is making it obvious that it is valuable, where it is, and how to use it -- without help documents or outside guidance," said Zach Lym, a psychology and design undergrad, in a blog post last month about Ubiquity usability testing.

The sentiment made famous in Field Of Dreams -- if you build it, he will come -- has misled many an entrepreneur by discounting the value of advertising. If you build it and they don't come, start marketing.

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