Sunday, December 25, 2005

Innovation II: Will iTunes Be Firefoxed?

We all need to pay attention to the open source movement. It has incredible power to tap into the creative energy of a broad and diverse talent base. Here's an open source project as it is evolving.

A venture backed, startup company, Pioneers of the Inevitable, is developing an open source version of a software product they call Songbird, to compete with Apple's iTunes. This first hit my radar screen in the article, Will iTunes Be Firefoxed?

For those who don't know, Firefox is a browser distributed by Mozilla. The source code for Firefox is freely available for developers to "help Mozilla by fixing bugs, adding new features, making Mozilla smaller and faster, and making Mozilla development easier for others." This is what the open source movement is all about.

Mozilla has captured a significant share of the browser market from Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Users of the Firefox browser account for 12.4% of the traffic on the Swamp Fox site, for example.

Which brings us to Pioneers of the Inevitable, which are organizing their open source effort on The Songbird Media Player Pre-release Blog. That blog in itself is pretty interesting. That you are reading this is a testament to the fact that it worked. In addition, others in the blogsphere have picked up on the product and are commenting on it, like here and here. That itself is an open source model for PR.

It will be interesting to check in with Songbird from time to time to see how much progress they are making in their open source initiative, especially to find out if they can capture market share from iTunes the way Firefox has captured share from Internet Explorer.

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