Mozilla Corp. on Wednesday launched the first set of Firefox video commercials created by diehard fans of the open-source Web browser.
Part of the Firefox Flicks marketing campaign, the ads can be viewed online or downloaded for sharing with others. Links are also provided for embedding in Web pages or blogs.
The campaign includes a contest in which a panel of judges will choose the best of more than 100 videos submitted to Mozilla, the for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation. The for-profit company plans to release a new set of videos each day until all the 30-second spots have been released.
The contest closes on Friday, and the winner will be announced this month at the San Francisco International Film Festival. The winning video will be incorporated in Mozilla's international marketing campaign for Firefox.
Mozilla is not the first company to tap its customers' creativity for marketing purposes. Sony, Mastercard, General Motors, and Converse are among other companies that have asked customers to create amateur ads for products.
Mozilla, however, has a particularly enthusiastic user base, given that the Firefox browser is the result of work done by volunteer developers within the open-source software community. Many of those developers are dedicated to presenting an alternative to Internet Explorer, Microsoft Corp.'s market-leading browser.
The three videos debuted Wednesday highlight claims that Firefox is more secure than rival IE, which is often the target of hackers because of its market dominance. Malware writers, however, could turn their sights on Firefox in the future, if it continues to gain traction among Web surfers.
As of March, Firefox, which Mozilla claims has been downloaded 160 million times, accounted for a tad more than 10 percent of the market, compared with IE's 84.7 percent, according to NetApplications. Many analysts have set the 10-percent mark as a milestone for Firefox, which took longer than expected to reach that goal. Mozilla had expected to top the mark last year.
Mozilla embarked on its first grassroots campaign in November 2004, when volunteers designed and underwrote a two-page ad in The New York Times to hail the release of Firefox 1.0. Firefox Flicks takes the idea a couple of steps higher by taking advantage of the growing popularity in online video.
"We're very impressed with the videos that have been contributed so far," Asa Dotzler, Mozilla community coordinator, said in a statement.
Revver, a service that helps video creators distribute, track and receive compensation for original online videos, is hosting Firefox Flicks videos.