More interesting than “ERROR”. Firefox tries to exude personality even in its user interface.

When I was looking after Brand Offering (winking at my former colleagues) for the world’s number one mobile company, I used to urge caution when people tried to make parts of the user experience too “interesting.” For example, there was one guy who refused to call the “Community” section of a developer site “Community”. He insisted on “Plaza”. We went back and forth many times over 6 months. He went ahead and did it anyway (luckily it’s been pulled back).

Browsers for computers are different. Actual differentiation (speed, easy searching, easy bookmarking, etc.) is difficult to achieve. The incumbents are Safari (Mac) and Explorer (PC). Google Chrome tries to compete on speed and super-Google-integration (ability to type anything in the Address bar and it gets Googled). Opera is getting to be the best mobile browser. So when you’re kind of middle-of-the-road when it comes to consumer perception of features like Mozilla Firefox, what do you have left?

Personality! From the welcome messages when you download, to the very human “Well this is embarassing” when something goes wrong, you don’t feel like you’re dealing with a machine, but with people who built a machine.  This is all good when a program is not translated into many languages. The localization implications for a machine with lots of personality probably equals lots of dollar signs to get it right, or many awkward translations if they get it wrong.