Firefox has a speedy new browser and wants to be relevant again

Parent company Mozilla even chartered a ferry and offered free rides this week.

In browser land, Google’s Chrome reigns supreme. But a familiar player is now trying to claw back more users.

Mozilla released a new Firefox browser this week — its first since launching 13 years ago — and to celebrate the anniversary/birthday, it chartered a ferry boat, took to the river and invited New Yorkers along for the ride.

Designed as a metaphor for the speed and efficiency of the Firefox Quantum browser, the three-day promotion — which includes free donuts, coffee, meditation classes, dual internet/IRL self-defense tips, and visits from an orange-caped Mr. Firefox Quantum superhero — ran from Nov. 14–16.

The biggest changes are a new user interface (UI) with redesigned menus and tabs, and a built-in Pocket integration to better incorporate parent company Mozilla’s recent acquisition of the read-it-later app.

“We’re reclaiming what we did well early, which is innovate and challenge,” said Chief Marketing Officer Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, who added that Firefox Quantum uses around 30 percent less RAM than Google Chrome.

Asked how Firefox Quantum is innovating differently from what the company had been doing for the past several years, Kaykas-Wolff admitted that “the core browser hadn’t been a focus for years” while they invested in mobile operating systems, which were successful, but also not successful.

“As an organization, we had to look at our mission to maintain an open and accessible internet. So we want to make sure our core browser achieves incredibly well,” he said.

Over 70 percent of the browser code was rewritten to reach that goal, according to Selena Deckelmann, director of engineering for Firefox Runtime.

Mr. Firefox Quantum and the chartered ferry. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Gaweda/Mozilla)

Mr. Firefox Quantum and the chartered ferry. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Gaweda/Mozilla)

In choosing a free ferry ride as its marketing vehicle, and Brooklyn as the location, Firefox also made a conscious decision to target a community that seeks new modes of environmentally-friendly public transportation, as well as the city’s millennials and socially conscious.

“Millennials care about the value products come from, not just the value that the product delivers,” said Kaykas-Wolff.

By coming in real life, introducing its story and interacting with these “choosers,” the nonprofit is able to maximize limited resources while giving a “tangible” way for consumers to understand the org’s ideas.

For Greenpoint residents Leslie Wolf and Sophie Paton, the free ferry ride, donuts and coffee is “genius” because “everyone loves free rides and it’s different from most promotions.” And for Ariel Lachman, also of Greenpoint: “Although it took a little while for me to connect the dots, it’s a cool idea and I’ll definitely download the new version.”

Companies: Mozilla
Series: Brooklyn

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